Malcolm Brogdon being traded to the Celtics completely came from left field, there were no rumors about Malcolm going over to Boston we heard his name floated around with the Knicks and Lakers and here comes Brad Stevens with yet another chess move bringing over exactly what they were missing in the Finals against the Warriors, someone can actually score and playmake efficiently without turning the ball over 5-8 times a game alot like Smart and Tatum did.
The Celtics also went and grabbed another scorer in Danilo Gallinari who will help up patch what was a very inconsistent offense whose floor spacing came and went like a groundhog does once a year. The Celtics added much needed depth, outside of Brown and Tatum the Celtics looked abysmal against the Warriors switch heavy defense and their role players Grant Williams,Derrick White,Al Horford,Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams were unable to open up driving lanes for Tatum and Brown. The Celtics went 33-10 in the second half of the season and boasted the number 1 defensive rating in the league anchored by young center Robert Williams who was limited in the Finals against the Warriors due to knee soreness.
The Eastern Conference will be tougher next season, the gauntlet Boston went through these past playoffs made them losing to the Golden State Warriors all that more frustrating. For Jayson Tatum to capture a championship in a playoff run in which he swept Kevin Durant,took out Giannis who most consider the best player in the game today,eliminate a Miami Heat team in search of revenge in 7 games, and then eliminate a Warriors team led by Steph Curry would have definitely made him eligible to enter the hall-of-fame assuming he opted to retire after the 2022 NBA Finals. Jayson Tatum made the All-NBA First Team and winning the title would have made for one heck of a Cinderella Story considering the turn-around the Celtics made going into the second half of last season.
If Boston had standed pat and went into the 2022-2023 season banking on a fully healthy Robert Williams and for Jayson Tatum to shake of his first Finals jitters I wouldn’t have picked them to get out of the Easten Conference next season. Not with Khris Middleton returning to aid Giannis Antetokoumpo next season, Khris Middleton is not a great basketball player nor is he a top 10 player in the league but he is arguably one of the top 10 scorers in the game today and can score from all over the floor while also playing close to elite defense. James Harden took a pay-cut in Philadelphia so the Sixers can add more shooting in PJ Tucker and Daniel House Jr and there is no doubt Joel Embiid is on a mission after being snubbed for the 2022 NBA MVP last season. Miami with a slimmer Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro assuming a possible starting role next season will likely look like a more than just a 1-man army lead by Jimmy Butler.
Assuming Kevin Durant remains in Brooklyn they will also be a threat and Atlanta with their 2-headed snake of Young and Murray will also turn some heads as well next season but Boston is definitely in that Elite 4 in the Eastern Conference going into next season. Jaylen Brown touched on how the Celtics needed a legitimate 3rd option midway through the season, Ime Udoka giving Marcus Smart more ball handling responsibilities in the second half led to a surge for Smart offensively but he will never be a better floor general than he is a defender and spot up shooter. Brogdon will give the Celtics the scoring and extra ball handler who can open up more opportunities for more limited offensive players like Grant Williams and Robert Williams.
I am a LeBron fan so of course I’ll be rooting him to deliver one more championship for the Lakers before he eventually leaves to go play with his son Bronny James elsewhere but the Celtics will definitely be one of my 2 other picks for the Larry O’ Brien trophy next season. Not because of Jayson Tatum looking for redemption after making us question whether he is a legitimate franchise player but because Boston has the perfect mix of talent,experience,and youth compared to all the other teams in the NBA. Robert Williams III has an untapped ceiling, if he can erase any doubts of being just a center who shows up here and then and adds a consistent elbow jumpshot the Celtics will be terrifying. Watching the Finals I always wondered what if Boston had someone who can feed Robert with dump off passes and lobs, he would score 15+ poins consistently and dominate the paint. If Robert can become a mini-version of Shaquille O’Neal which is possible the Boston Celtics will be your 2023 NBA Champions.