ET + Sully = Al
Free agency started off a little bumpy for Celtics fans. Evan Turner left to go to Portland for an astonishing price of $19 million a year. Then team decided to let their big man Jared Sullinger walk in free agency with management rescinding their qualifying offer. With those two key losses the team was able to sign the four time all-star Al Horford, a huge victory the organization. Finally it seemed like the Celtics got their second star to pair with point guard Isaiah Thomas. However, even with Horford’s much needed presence, Boston finds themselves with a few weaknesses that could prove to be fatal come playoff time.
No longer do the Celtics posses a proven player that can control the offense when Thomas is out. What if Terry Rozier doesn’t work out? What if Marcus Smart doesn’t develop as a playmaker? These are questions that Boston fans should be losing sleep over. Last season it was pretty clear that whenever Isaiah had the ball, Boston felt comfortable with his decision making. Other than their star point guard, only Evan Turner showed flashes that he could handle the responsibilities of being the main ball-handler and facilitator for the C’s. Now that ET has “left home”, it is up to the recent Danny Ainge drafted guards to fill the void.
Boston was a surprisingly good rebounding team last season (6th overall). The team was lead by their BIG man, Jared Sullinger who averaged the most rebounds on the team by a considerable margin. After their playoff series versus Atlanta, it seemed that the team as well as the fanbase had outgrown their overgrown rebounder. He really had no impact on the series, having a tough time keeping up with the mobile big men of Atlanta. With Al Horford in his place, it is safe to say the team certainly upgraded the position, but who will be leading the team in rebounds now? Amir is a solid big man on the boards but is sometimes limited on the offensive side of the ball, and has had problems guarding faster more athletic big men on the perimeter. Even Al Horford’s rebounding numbers have taken a dip over the years, a key reason why Atlanta chose to pursue Dwight Howard.
Isaiah Thomas gets injured
The average height in the NBA is about 6’7”. Isaiah is only 5’9”. Yet even with his clear disadvantages, Thomas is still one of the best finishers among the elite guards. But because of his height there are times when Thomas goes up for routine NBA layups and still lands awkwardly due to contact in the air. Not only does he have to get himself high enough to finish over seven footers in this league, but he also has to prepare himself for the landing aspect of his jumps. And sometimes the way he lands is just brutal to watch as a Celtics fan. One reason people love him as a player is because he plays with a certain type of recklessness that attracts those who love underdogs. But it is because of that thinking process that increases the likeliness of any type of injury risk. Even if he were not to get injured during this year, what about when he is near the end of his prime and his body slows down? Will Isaiah feel the wear and tear of being an NBA “little guy,” before other players? This is something that Boston needs to be thinking about when it comes time to resign him. Isaiah Thomas will be close to thirty, looking to break the bank with a long term deal. But will it be worth it in a couple years when they are heavily paying an undersized thirty something year old that is losing parts of his explosiveness? Just something to think about.