Over the season, i’ve had some strong takes on just about every Celtics player in their every day rotation with some being negative, and others positive. As the Celtics now go into game three of the Eastern Conference Finals, here is a look back on some of my best takes, and some of my worst.
Where I was right:
This may have been my biggest hit of the new Celtics era. Right before the 2016 draft there were talks of trading the third overall pick for Jahlil Okafor, Jimmy Butler or other possible players. I was a firm-no on trading the pick, and firmly believed Jaylen Brown would be the best possible option at number three. While a large percentage of Boston fans were upset with the pick, I loved the upside of Jaylen Brown. The defensive ability, athleticism and intensity was too much to pass up. While people doubted his shooting ability, his shot mechanics were fine, and I trusted he would be able to eventually turn into a great shooter. It seems to have worked out well so far for Boston.
Once again, another player I loved going into draft night. While everyone was drooling over the dunking ability of Aaron Gordon or the handles and length of Dante Exum, Smart was the “ugly” pick. A defensive player, who wasn’t a true point guard and couldn’t shoot. He was considered an old school guy in a fast-changing NBA. Maybe I just have a bias for the grit-and-grind players over the flashy skill players, but Smart’s toughness has been a huge factor in Boston’s success. For all of those who believed Smart’s poor offensive play outweighed his game-changing toughness and knack for big plays, you may want to take back your takes
Here we go with the narrative being changed. The day after the trade deadline, the Cavs were dubbed the “clear cut favorite in the East” by many major analysts. This may have been the most confused I’ve been in a long time. How could a majority of professional analysts agree that a team who just traded away an all-NBA second teamer, a twelve-time all-star and a defensive specialist in Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade and Jae Crowder for three players with zero playoff experience and George Hill got better? This team got much worse, especially for playoff basketball where experience and star-power is proven to mean much more than depth.
This has an asterisk next to it considering I was all for drafting Markelle Fultz, but we will get to that later. As for Tatum, he was my pick for rookie of the year. My reasoning for drafting Fultz over Tatum was simply potential. As for Tatum, we knew this was coming. Well at least, most draft analysts did. Tatum was widely considered the most developed player in his draft class. As far as rookies go, Tatum projected to have the most impact during his rookie season as his game was already very polished on both sides of the ball. Now, I don’t think anyone expected him to have five straight games of 20+ points in the playoffs, however Tatum came into the league with a more developed skill set than any other rookie.
Where I was wrong:
Yup, I was one of the “Average Al” people. Never thinking he was actually average, however I did not think he was worthy of a max contract. It was nothing against Al, I just did not believe someone who averaged less than 15 points a game through his career was worth a max contract. His terrible record against LeBron and lack of fire did not help things. However, he proved all of the Horford haters wrong. Al has easily been the MVP of this Celtics team so far in the playoffs, and has expressed more fire and hustle than just about anyone on the team. He has proven to be a leader, and a valuable part of the Celtics run.
When Rozier was drafted with the sixteenth pick in the 2015 draft, I didn’t hate the pick, but it just seemed boring. There wasn’t anyone else I would have chosen over him, but I didn’t get the hype for a mid first round selection. After Kyrie went down, Rozier showed why there was nothing boring about that pick. He has been nothing short of a top-tier point guard this post-season and has proven to be a legitimate threat offensively. It may be a stretch to say he will continue this throughout his career, but I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m not going to bet against Scary Terry.
As much as I love seeing the 76ers screw up their franchise who i’ve continuously dubbed as the biggest loser franchise in the NBA, this aggravates me. Out of college Markelle Fultz came into the NBA being the best three-way scorer since Kyrie Irving. Someone with his ability would have thrived in Brad Stevens’ system. Then again the draft was in June, and by August we got, well…..Kyrie Irving. But regardless, Fultz played all of 14 games this year while Tatum is leading his team to a 2-0 lead in the Conference Finals, so I was wrong.
This is an interesting case. When I first heard about the Morris deal, I loved the fact he was statically one of the best defenders against LeBron. As I watched him play, I quickly became aggravated with the amount of shots (most of them heavily contested) that he took. My original take with Marcus Morris was that unless he completely dominates LeBron, it will not be worth all of the selfish shots he takes. Well, through two games he has dominated LeBron and has slowed down on his bad shot selection. Screaming in Tristan Thompson’s face just leapfrogged him to one of my favorite players on the team.
The Wild Card:
One of the biggest knocks I’ve had on LeBron is the fact he has never won a finals without two other all-stars on his team. He also has multiple times lost in the playoffs when being the favorite, something Michael Jordan has never done. If LeBron and the Cavs lose this series, it will once again prove LeBron can not carry a team to a championship by himself. If LeBron does win this series, it will at least prove he can carry a team through the East, which is still a pretty impressive feat.