Outstanding off-season keeps Boston Celtics NBA title contenders

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The Sports Bank will be counting down to the opening tip of the 2012-13 NBA season with team by team previews starting with the worst and working our way to the title contenders.  There is no lockout this time around so let’s get going.

The goal in recent years for the Boston Celtics was just get to the postseason healthy in hopes of making a playoff run with their veteran core.  This off-season, the Celtics got younger, deeper, and all-around better meaning they will once again be a serious player in the Eastern Conference.

BOSTON CELTICS
2011-12: 39-27, 5th in Eastern Conference
Predicted EC Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart:
C: Kevin Garnett/Chris Wilcox/Darko Milicic/Jason Collins/Fab Melo
PF: Brandon Bass/Jeff Green/Jared Sullinger/JaJuan Johnson
SF: Paul Pierce/Courtney Lee/Kris Joseph
SG: Avery Bradley/Jason Terry/Leandro Barbosa
PG: Rajon Rando

Boston’s off-season was: really smart.  Credit to Danny Ainge for adding youth but more importantly, better depth to help complement their big three.  They re-signed Kevin Garnett which was a must, and did so without breaking the bank (three years, $36 million.)  Realizing Ray Allen was walking and needing more dependability at the two guard, the C’s signed one of the top sixth men in the NBA the past several seasons in Jason Terry, acquired the young, versatile Courtney Lee, and added another veteran bench scorer in Leandro Barbosa for the league minimum.

The Celtics also needed to find some improved size and ability inside.  They re-signed Brandon Bass for a reasonable price, and used their two first round picks on Jared Sullinger (who could end up being one of the steals of the draft) and developing big man Fab Melo.  Getting a healthy Jeff Green will do wonders for their production at power forward and Darko Milicic and Jason Collins can at least commit six fouls a game.

2012-2013 will be a success if: the remade supporting cast has enough to knock off the Heat.  At this point of their careers, you know what you are going to get from Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rando.  They provide the starpower in Beantown but as we learned last year, that wasn’t enough to compete with Miami’s Big 3.  With improved depth all across the roster, the Celtics’ second unit should be much improved from a year ago when the team was relying on guys like Keyon Dooling, Ryan Hollins, and Mikael Pietrus to play meaningful minutes.  Miami made some improvements to their bench as well (most notably luring Ray Allen from Boston) so I expect those two to duel to the Eastern Conference Finals.

2012-2013 will be a disappointment if: usually the answer for Boston would be if they can’t stay healthy, but even that won’t be detrimental this year.  They got younger and deeper on the wing which means they don’t need to rely on one guy like Ray Allen.  Avery Bradley’s continual development makes the C’s much stronger at the two as well.

It is the same case upfront with better talent surrounding KG.  Bass is back, Green and Chris Wilcox are healthy, and Sullinger will be playing with a chip on his shoulder after slipping out of the lottery of the NBA Draft.  Maybe I’m a bit crazy but I really like this year’s Celtics team.

Looking ahead to next summer: With all the additions Boston made this off-season, next summer should be much quieter.  There won’t be any cap flexibility but with their core under contract for the next several years, the mid-level exception will be enough to a piece or two to keep the Celtics in the title hunt.

OTHER NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEWS:
#3 Brooklyn Nets
#4 New York Knicks
#5 Indiana Pacers
#6 Philadelphia 76ers
#7 Chicago Bulls
#8 Toronto Raptors
#9 Milwaukee Bucks
#10 Detroit Pistons
#11 Atlanta Hawks
#12 Cleveland Cavaliers
#13 Orlando Magic
#14 Washington Wizards
#15 Charlotte Bobcats

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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