Heading into this season pessimism defined the mood of Celtics fans. Some of the reasons for it was understandable: the absence of Kemba Walker to begin the season and the critics poo-pooing Ainge’s drafting order Payton Pritchard, many believed the Celtics wouldn’t even be in the top-six in the eastern conference.
Yes, really. People are this stupid. Personally, I feel it was a combination of pundits not watching basketball, taking their cues from Twitter and getting distracted by the new shiny objects as the league once again reshuffled its deck while the Celtics returned largely the same as the previous season. Their lone acquisition of consequence in free agency was Tristan Thompson.
The departure of Gordon Hayward in rather abrupt fashion, pulling the rug out from not only the Celtics who hoped to trade the often injured star, but also their trad partner the Indiana Pacers. To put it bluntly, the Celtics not trading for Myles Turner because Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is an impulsive maniac is why this team is destined to suck.
While nobody in Boston adores the two big man lineup of Daniel Theis playing power forward while the embodiment of toxic masculinity Tristan Thompson mans the center position, as individuals they’ve done similarly to Turner in the aggregate.
When Thompson is the lone big his net rating is a healthy plus-17.5 in the little over hundred minutes he’s logged in. When together Theis and Thompson share a putrid negative-19.4 net rating. Keeping current with this trend when Theis is the lone big his net rating an even zero. Which is kind of a big jump given how he’s played the majority of the season out of position.
The reasoning behind the double big lineups is solely so Stevens can fit all his productive players in their respective roles and maximize the time they’ll see the floor. The logic is sound, then you constantly see teams rain threes over our bigs and dig us into early holes.
For years Boston fans vexed at the constant issues of not having enough bigs. Now they have three thanks to the emergence of Robert Williams and his unlikely alley-op partner in crime Payton “The Piss Man” Pritchard.
The once maligned first round pick has acted as a savior for the Celtics. Yes, I understand this team fields two MVP candidates but the donut hole left by Kemba would have been felt if Pritchard wasn’t around. His shooting, his creation for himself and others have been a needed breath of fresh air. Since Jeff Teague has not worked out as of yet, Pritchard has been the difference maker for the Celts being atop of the East.
Another unexpected bright spot has been the emergence of Semi Ojeleye as a respectable three-and-D off the bench threat is… shocking. Just from the basic stats Ojeleye’s jump caused me to do a double take. Last season he hit only rim, compiling 40/37/87 splits. This season, given a bigger role thanks to the departure of Hayward he’s excelled! 46/42/61. Now his free throw shooting has gone into the toilet, but the story is Semi is one of the reasons the Celtics didn’t beat the Heat last season and now he’s better.
And lastly: Kemba Walker is back. Potentially tomorrow vs the New York Knicks. For all intents and purposes the Celtics have survived the storm. They are a deeper team than before and possess the tools necessary to better their roster.
Yes, the Nets are insanely talented and scary, but I implore fans to just be happy and enjoy the ride. Leave the pessimism and hysterics to me.