The Boston Celtics look to improve this upcoming season after posting a solid 48-34 record, while finishing as the 5th seed in the East. With a multitude of moves and signings this offseason, the Celtics eye an Eastern Conference crown as they head into the 2016-17 season.
The Celtics' most notable move this offseason came with the acquisition of All-Star center Al Horford. Horford, who was a member of the Hawks roster that defeated the Celtics in the first round, signed a lucrative 4-year deal worth $113 million on July 8th.
"We found out in '07, once you get one, others want to come.", said former Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, per Scott Souza. With this signing of Horford, Boston could become a potential destination for marquee free agents in the future, as they've barely missed out on the signing of former MVP Kevin Durant.
"We thought we were getting him, Celtics thought they were getting him, think GS knew they were getting him," continued Doc Rivers, who coached the Celtics from 2004-2013.
Horford, a skilled face-up center, enters the Celtics after coming off of averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in the regular season. During the first round against the Celtics, Horford averaged 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while shooting 43% from the field.
One thing the Celtics lacked this year was a solid low-post presence. With forward Jared Sullinger inking a new deal with the Toronto Raptors in free agency, the Celtics seemed to have found a respectable replacement with this new addition of Horford, a career 53.5% shooter from the field.
"Getting Al (Horford) was big. I think that was more important than any of the draft picks (they have)," continued Rivers.
With the Boston Celtics entering the 2016 Draft loaded with picks, they eventually decided to move forward with All-American stand-out Jaylen Brown out of California with the 3rd overall pick. After the move, comparisons to Celtics' great Paul Pierce were immediately drawn towards Jaylen Brown.
After entering the league in 1998, Pierce was known as a 6-7 slashing 2-guard, the position he had originally played. Both Brown and Pierce are listed at 6-7, with identical wingspans measuring at 7-1, while both also play the same position. Although Pierce was known for his clutch, deadeye jump-shooting throughout the majority of his professional career, that wasn't always the case.
It wasn't until Pierce's fourth season in the NBA he saw notable shooting improvements, where he shot 80% from the free-throw line for the first time in his career. As a freshman at Kansas, Pierce shot just 30% from three-point range while averaging roughly 12 points. Those numbers are comparable to the ones Jaylen Brown put up as a freshman at California.
Brown is currently coming off of averaging 14 points on 29% shooting from three-point range his freshman year at California. Both also dished out roughly 2 assists a game their freshman years, while also averaging roughly five rebounds.
Despite posting similar stats, both have completely different play styles. Pierce was more of a shot-creator, shooting at a career 37% from three-point range, and 80% from the foul line. Jaylen Brown's game is more predicated on his athleticism and slashing, shooting 48% from the field his freshman year.
Some will say it's a little too much to be comparing a first-year college freshman to a former NBA Finals MVP. But only time can tell Jaylen Brown's true success and greatness in the league. For now, we can only say the future is bright.
The Celtics can see themselves winning around 50 games this upcoming season. When you consider the Celtics picking up a big man in Horford, a career 53.5% shooter from the field, improvements in their win columns would really come as no surprise.
Pairing him up with an All-Star scoring point guard in Isaiah Thomas, a roughrider defender in Avery Bradley, it would be no surprise to see the Celtics advancing all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals this year.
What do you think of the Celtics this upcoming season? How far do you see them advancing in the East this year?