It’s no secret the Celtics lacked significant enough cohesion on the offensive end. For a multitude of reasons the team never jelled, some of the cause of players not being fully healthy and outside forces out of their control. Despite his scoring prowess once he lost a step there wasn’t much Kemba Walker could contribute to the team if he is to remain inconsistent from the field. Then there’s Jaylen Brown, while his scoring has improved his inability to pass and dribble left much to be desired. Jayson Tatum was always a good passer, but when given floor general duties it essentially sacrificed his scoring as he became more passive looking to get others involved at his own detriment. The idea proposed by Jared Weiss that Tatum is selfish and needs to be more deferential to his teammates is laughable. I’ve been watching him for four years and the only criticism I had was he wasn’t asserting himself nearly enough.
A common trait that seems to define this generation of superstars to me is they lack the assertiveness of generations past. What a selfish prick like Michael Jordan or LeBron James would do if a coach didn’t let them touch the ball during crucial stretches of a game would be akin to spontaneous mutiny. But Tatum is far too reasonable to go to such an extreme and that’s why we lost in 2018. So get the fuck out of here if you’re trying to paint him as a self centered individual.
What the Celtics needed post-Kyrie was a point guard that’ll give the rock up and initiate offense. Basically a Mike Conley. But the Kemba signing worked and we’re a Tyler Herro anomaly or a Gordon Hayward injury or an Al Horford reneging on the Sixers away from being champions. But, as always, the breaks of the game went against the Celtics. So we have to regard the signing as an a abstract failure despite it very much not being. It’s nice that the discourse around the league treats Coronavirus as a knee sprain. A setback that is natural when playing basketball.
Everyone gets so touchy when you say this season, and the previous one, are fake. “You wouldn’t be saying this if your team won.” Yes, I in fact would be saying this. I just have this part of my brain that processes irony. It’s like saying my teams win only because they cheat. Okay, so what if you’re right? What are you going to do about it?
But the takeaway the front office for the Celtics was it was time to move away from score first point guards and enter an era where everything is geared around your two all-star forwards in a similar vein to the Los Angeles Clippers and things have been working out pretty well for them. Remember when I called them a bunch of tissue paper thin mentally weak cowards? Well as of two weeks ago that seems to be all but buried as they sure showed me what for. Good for them. No really, good for them.
The moving of Kemba for Horford improves the Celtics passing and defense. A sad turn revaluation last season was Brown’s off ball defense being below from suspect, and Marcus Smart either taking a step back due to injury or his aggressive play coupled with the injuries he’s accumulated in his career leading to his wear and tear and regression as a defender. It hurts my soul to type this.
While many have you believe Horford is washed, they are merely letting his lost seasons in Philadelphia and Oklahoma cloud their judgment. Now I’m not one to use advanced metrics, as they are for nerds who need to be shoved into lockers and shunned from society… but when the numbers are to my liking that’s a different story.
Last year old Al’s defensive metrics are very friendly to him.
Defensive Real Box Score +/-: 83rd percentile
Defensive Box Score +/-: 88th percentile
Luck-adjusted Regularized Adjusted +/-: 77th percentile
Finally, the Thunder’s defensive rating of 109.1 with Horford on the floor ranks fifth in the NBA, vs the 113.9 with him off; ranking 26th.
He isn’t done folks. I’m perfectly aware my endorsement is akin to the kiss of death but what am I supposed to do in the face of this mounting evidence supporting the idea Horford just found himself in odd situations? The Thunder had to send him home because he was helping them win too many games. That counts for something.
He’s still a very good passer and creator. While his athleticism has waned, he still can utilize his lanky frame and play bully-ball. Something the Celtics have missed from their center for some time. Though I do believe Tristan Thompson wasn’t too bad in his role. Oh, shut up! Your boos mean nothing to me I’ve seen what makes you people cheer!
As far as the Celtics center situation is concerned I believe we are in a “wait and see” period. Moses Brown is under contract until 2024, they are in rush to play him. Robert Williams can be sign and traded if the fit with him and Horford doesn’t work out. Thompson came along nicely late in the season and is making only $9.5 million. Not much you can get for him, so you might as well keep him. Horford is good for 20-minutes per night and unless you’re playing the Sixers that’s fine with me.
The Celtics lost a transcendent scorer that’s likely Hall of Fame bound if he recovers like I still believe he will. But what they gained was much needed roster flexibility and established a clearer vision going forward. Not a bad trade in the moment. But of course, hindsight is always a bitch.