17) Boston Celtics 41-40 in the 2012-2013 season. 7th in the East. 3rd in the Atlantic.
The outlook on the Celtics from most analysts are depressing, and honestly, I'm not 100% sure why. Yes, they lost an outstanding coach in Doc Rivers. Yes, they lost two future Hall Of Famers in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Yes, the players they got back aren't the best of the best. However, this team has some promise. They have a roster that could be decent, and let's not forget how bad the East was last year. They could somehow be a sleeper, and if I've learned anything covering the NBA, don't ever count out Boston.
Lost: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo, Terrence Williams, Jason Terry
Starters: Avery Bradley (PG), Jordan Crawford (SG), Jeff Green (SF), Brandon Bass (PF), Kelly Olynyk (C)
Bench: Rajon Rondo (injury - eventual starting PG) Kris Humphries (C), Gerald Wallace (SF), Courtney Lee (SG), Jared Sullinger (PF)
Up: Jeff Green - Talking about coming back from heart surgery with...well...heart! Jeff Green signed with the Celtics and gave them a special spark last year to help in the Celtics final stretch. Now without Pierce, Garnett, or PG Rondo for at least a couple months, it will be a lot of pressure on Green to carry the load. He's gonna have to bring his A-game every night to help Boston get to the playoffs.
Down: Gerald Wallace - Gerald went from effort guy to forgotten guy. Ever since he was a part of "The Beginning of the Bobcats" in Charlotte, Wallace has been known as the guy who gave it his all. His career since saw him get a huge contract with Brooklyn, then fall short off of the expectations thus him being part of the Pierce and Garnett deal. Can Wallace bounce back? Boston sure hopes so.
X-Factor: Rajon Rondo - If the Celtics want ANY chance of making anything of this season, Rondo will have to buy into the system and carry the load. He's injured and will miss quite a bit of time, but how he handles his return will be the key for the Celtics' year. Whether he plays to star level, plays under-par, or even gets traded, the year for Boston will be decided by Rajon Rondo and whatever decisions he and management make.
Question to Ponder..What's the plan with Rondo if Boston starts out hot?
The obvious plan for Boston if they start out slow is to get assets for the future for Rondo. He's the hottest commodity on the market, and this might be the highest they can get for him...however what do they do if Boston starts out way better than expected? Lets say by the time Rondo returns they're at least 3 or 4 games over .500....do they still try to ship him even with the chance of the playoffs, or do they convince him this team can work out and go for something? It seems like a year of sadness for Boston, but this could happen.
Bold Prediction for the Boston Celtics: THEY MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!!!
This might be one of the predictions I make that no one agrees with. Everyone has the Celtics as one of the worst teams in the league, yet I completely disagree. Yeah, this team really could be in trouble without Rondo at the beginning, but this team isn't awful. Bradley can play, and Green came back very strong. Olynyk and the other young bigs could be intriguing along with a veteran like Humphries who will look to get back his career in Boston. Jared Sullinger was quietly very good last year before his injury costed him the year. This team has a lot of young players with a lot to prove, and that could prove to be playoff worthy in the East which has plenty of holes in it. If Boston gets in the playoffs, try not to act too surprised.
Projected Record: 41-41 7th in the East, 3rd in the Atlantic.