The Boston Celtics might not be as hot as they were earlier in the season. However, there is no question they remain one of the top teams in the NBA during the current season.
Head coach Brad Stevens has assembled a balanced roster on both ends of the court, and they will be a tough team to beat come playoff time. But the best thing about the Celtics is that their window of contention is starting to open up. No one knows how their players will progress, but one thing is certain: Boston has enough talent to be a contender for years to come. If anything, we could say the sky is the limit for the franchise.
What is the Celtics’ window of contention?
Let’s take a look at their roster because age is certainly a factor in a league as competitive in the NBA. And there is no question the Celtics are one of the youngest teams in the entire Association. Kyrie Irving is just 26, Jaylen Brown is 22, and Jayson Tatum is just 20. Gordon Hayward is 28, and Marcus Morris is 29. Both Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart are 24. And Al Horford is the only player with a significant role in the rotation who is over the 30-year-old barrier at 32.
If we average all of them, we see the Celtics’ core averages 25.6 years of age. That’s extremely young, especially considering other contending teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, and the Golden State Warriors are significantly older. The Celtics are certainly trying to build a sustainable winner for years to come, and this is a core with enough potential to grow together during the next few seasons.
Progression of role players has been key
Smart and Rozier have progressed a lot over the past few years, but Rozier’s case has been interesting. Before the start of the 2016-17 season, he barely made the 15-man roster but is now an important part of the rotation as a scoring punch off the bench. And another interesting case to highlight is the one of Tatum. He might not be the winner of the Rookie Of The Year Award, but he is certainly one of the best first-year players in the NBA right now.
Those two – alongside Brown – are the future of the franchise. And if we add Irving, who is a superstar and probably a Top 10 player in the NBA, and the experience of Horford, who is one of the most versatile big men in the league, make the Celtics a deep team on both ends of the court. And that’s not even adding Hayward, who will likely miss the entire season with a gruesome injury suffered in the season opener. The presence of the former Utah Jazz star in the 2018-19 campaign could be the difference maker in the short-term picture of the franchise.
By all accounts, it seems Danny Ainge’s plan has worked out as expected. And unless something dramatic happens, the Celtics are set to become a contending team for years to come. For them, the sky is the limit.