By Scott Jarosz ’21
Over the course of the offseason prior to the 2017-18 NBA season, the Boston Celtics made some enormous additions to their roster that created a lot of buzz throughout their home city. In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Celtics selected former Duke University small forward Jayson Tatum as the third overall pick.
Next, Head Coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics signed Gordon Hayward, who had previously played with the Utah Jazz for seven straight seasons coming out of college. This signing was especially well-recieved as Hayward had previously played under Stevens at Butler University, where Stevens served as the head coach from 2007 to 2013 prior to joining the Celtics.
The next roster change, and arguably the biggest change the Celtics made, was a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that sent Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder to Cleveland in exchange for star point guard Kyrie Irving. The drastic changes that the Celtics front office made during the offseason proved to be well worth it, as the Celtics finished with a 55-27 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This season, the Celtics are looking to work off last year’s project and do even more damage. There is good reason to believe that the team will have even more success this year as the group continues to evolve, and as small forward Gordon Hayward makes his highly anticipated return after missing practically the entire 2017-18 season with a gruesome ankle injury.
At full strength, the 2018-19 Celtics are one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA. The team features some of the best young talent in the league with players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier, who are all recent college graduates. The Celtics also boast experienced players such as center Aron Baynes, power forwards Marcus Morris and Al Horford, and point guard Kyrie Irving, who is just 26-year-old but is regarded as one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Last season, Jayson Tatum was one of the most surprising rookies in the league. Tatum averaged 13.9 points per game (PPG) in the 2017-18 regular season. He impressed everyone throughout the league with his confidence and composure, which shined in the postseason. In the playoffs, Tatum averaged 18.5 PPG and recorded a season-high 28 points in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. Tatum was not the only Celtics player that surprised people last year. Guard Terry Rozier stepped up and was a crucial player for the Celtics, especially after Kyrie Irving suffered an injury in March that sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season and postseason. In the playoffs, Rozier averaged 16.5 PPG and 5.7 assists per game. One of his most notable postseason performances also came in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the 76ers when he netted 29 points. Rozier’s ability to step in and make big-game plays in Irving’s absence earned him a lot of respect from fans as well as the nickname “Scary Terry”.
The Celtics showed just a glimpse of what they are capable of last season. When taking into consideration that the Celtics were without Gordon Hayward for the entire season and Kyrie Irving for the postseason, what the team accomplished was quite impressive. Now at full force, the Celtics look to be one of the NBA’s best teams in the 2018-19 season.