The Celtics Need a Center

January 7, 2016 at 10:11pm in Boston, Celtics, NBA
Brad Stevens

Last night at the Boston Garden the Celtics dropped a tough 99-94 loss to the Detroit Pistons. The C’s came out of the gate hot and held command of the lead for a majority of the game, but failed to execute and score over big stretches of the second half.  Although Isaiah Thomas did his best to will the team to victory despite a poor shooting night and some crucial misses at the free throw line, his late effort was not enough and the Celtics fell. The heart and grit of this group is displayed by their tenacious defensive intensity, but what the team lacks is a go-to scorer – someone they can give the ball to in the post and confidently say ‘go get me a bucket big man’. With an ace like that the Celtics could become elite team and a real contender in the Eastern Conference.

Trade speculation has been buzzing around big-time NBA centers including Dwight Howard, Brooke Lopez, and DeMarcus Cousins, and the Celts have been tied to almost all of the rumors. The question remains whether Danny Ainge is ready to make that kind of deal, which would undoubtedly require separating with some very valuable assets. Rumor has it that Ainge has expressed interest in such a deal, but has been unwilling to accept a trade that includes Marcus Smart or the Brooklyn Nets’ 2016 1st round draft pick that was acquired in the trade involving Pierce and Garnett. This is a fair assessment by Ainge as that selection has a chance of becoming a number one overall and Marcus Smart has shown tremendous promise. It is clear that Ainge does not consider Smart on the trade block, but that 2016 draft pick deserves some reconsideration.

The obvious top pick in this year’s draft class is LSU’s freshman phenom Ben Simmons. Anyone that watched he and the Tigers dismantle Kentucky on Tuesday got to see the superior talent level and athleticism that has NBA general managers salivating. After him on the in the top five of the mock draft board are Brandon Ingram (Duke), Kris Dunn (Providence), Jaylen Brown (California), and Ivan Rabb (California). Although all these players are certainly talented and may blossom into quality NBA starters, none of them seem to address the Celtics’ needs other than Simmons.

The chance of the Nets’ pick becoming #1 overall is 15.9% as of January 7th and the chance of it being in the top 3 is 46.9%. And keep in mind, every time the Celtics continue to lose to the Nets decreases that probability. Drafting Ben Simmons would be ideal for any team because the potential he offers, but acquiring him is far from a sure thing at this point for the Celtics and the lucky team that gets the number one overall will also need to demonstrate patience as the youngster develops.

It seems like given the circumstances and the current Celtics roster trading that Nets’ unprotected draft pick could be beneficial to the Celtics if it is dealt for the right guy. Of the three aforementioned centers on the market the easy name to cross of the list is the plague of the NBA – Dwight Howard. But both Brooke Lopez and DeMarcus Cousins are interesting and offer intriguing options that deserve some consideration. Here is a career comparison of the two.

Age Points per game Rebounds per game Assists per game Blocks per game Steals per game
Brook Lopez


18.0 7.4 1.3 0.6


DeMarcus Cousins 25 19.4 10.7 2.6 1.3


The two other important elements that need attention are health and character, which are both important when analyzing these two options at center. With DeMarcus Cousins the main concern is his attitude, as he has a history of clashing with coaches and quitting on his teammates. For Brook Lopez it is his injury history that includes foot and ankles problems that often become a chronic hinderance for many big men. Other than those two concerns both players statistical output have been fairly comparable over their careers, with DeMarcus having an advantage on the offensive end. 

The answer here is DeMarcus Cousins. He is younger than Lopez, has not had the scary injury history, and has shown flashes of defensive ability to go along with his offensive skill set. As previously mentioned the concern is about Cousins’ character, which is a valid source of anxiety and skepticism. But the leadership role on the Celtics that Isaiah Thomas has assumed, and his friendship with Cousins that was developed during their time playing together for the Sacramento Kings offers some optimism. This relationship could harness Cousins’ potential and influence him to buy into Coach Stevens’ system. Sure it is not an absolute certainty, but the presence of Thomas along with leaders like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley could simmer Cousins’ attitude and allow him to blossom on in team-oriented environment.

With the addition of an elite center the Celtics would be a real contender in the Eastern Conference. Brooke Lopez’ health concerns are not worth giving the Nets back their first round draft pick despite his talents, but the promise of DeMarcus Cousins would be. In either case the deal would likely also include a second round draft pick or two, and a player like David Lee to balance each teams’ salary cap. DeMarcus Cousins offers a superstar offensive skill set with defensive potential if he is surrounded by a competitive team that he gels with. This acquisition could move the Celtics one step closer to their championship aspirations. Celtics fan are waiting patiently for this team to turn the corner and although a supreme college talent like Ben Simmons is promising, it will only serve to further delay the winning process. On the other hand DeMarcus Cousins is under contract through 2018 and could propel the club to the next level upon his first day in the green and white. If Ainge wants to win in the near future he will make this type of deal, if not Celtics fans will have to continue to wait patiently for the team to become a legitimate contender for the NBA championship.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

David Lee coming to Boston (USA Today Sports)

Last season David Lee was injured, lost his starting job, at times was irrelevant and when you look at his numbers they are shockingly competent. Sure, he can’t defend at all but at 6’9” with limited athleticism and short arms, what do you expect? And its not like his lack of defense is going to create a huge hole; this Celtics front court wasn’t going to be blowing up any offenses anyway. Lee’s defensive deficiencies were amplified by the fact that he was behind Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut, who are two of the best ten front court defenders in the league.

Regardless, David Lee is going to bring a lot to the table and be a great fit for Boston, even if it’s only for one year. Continue reading What David Lee Can Bring to Boston »

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Summer league for the Celtics officially started Monday night and it was a joy to watch. Despite the loss, it is exciting to watch these younger players compete and perform. While conclusions about the future success of these guys cannot be drawn from one summer game, there were a number observations I took away from Monday night’s game.

James Young looks different

Monday night was the first I had seen of James Young since his off-season workouts. Although Young did not have the greatest game statistically Monday night, I was thoroughly impressed. The muscle he put on is a welcomed addition to his lanky frame, and will help both offensively and defensively over the grind of an 82 game NBA season. I’m optimistic as to how it will translate on the defensive side of the ball, a place where Young struggled last year. James Young is a natural scorer whose statistical number are bound to come, but I’m especially excited to see how he develops as a defensive player this year. His body looks NBA ready this year, and I’m excited to watch this guy as the season progresses.

Marcus Smart is emerging as a leader

The 21-year-old point guard was extraordinary in Monday night’s contest. Continue reading Some Thoughts From Celtics’ First Summer League Game »

Tags: , , , , , ,

amir johnson

The Boston Celtics signed Amir Johnson to a 2-year, $24 million deal on Wednesday.

Last season he spent his sixth season with the Toronto Raptors, in which he averaged 9.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He helped the Raptors earn the Atlantic division championship last season and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Detroit Pistons in 2005.

Continue reading Celtics Sign Amir Johnson to 2-Year, $24 Million Deal »

Tags: , , ,

DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

I have already stated that I am not sure is DeMarcus Cousins would fit in Boston but I would still take the risk depending on the package Sacramento is looking for. There are a number of things general manager Danny Ainge could do to get Cousins or some other star, given the cap situation and the number of tradable pieces on the books. Quite possibly the best, and least talked about of these assets is the two large trade exceptions Boston has from Tayshaun Prince and Rajon Rondo. These could be huge in a scenario where Ainge goes all in for next season. If he decides to simply use all cap room, trade exceptions, trades and draft picks between now and next year’s trade deadline, there are endless possibilities — one of which is figuring out a way to bring the Kings big man to Boston.

Cousins is on a great contract, through 2017-18, plays well on both ends of the court (when he wants to) and is possibly the most frightening low post threat in the league. That all sounds great but that last part is what worries me. In an increasingly perimeter oriented league, maybe a guy who plays almost exclusively inside isn’t worth as much as one that can stretch the floor. So there are two questions that need to be answered: Is DeMarcus Cousins worth trading for? And if so, how do you do it? Continue reading Using Trade Exceptions and Bringing Boogie to Boston »

Tags: , , , ,

Boston made it back to the postseason despite being in a rebuilding season; can they keep it going again old foe LeBron James and the Cavs? (

With the playoffs underway, get ready for some great games. The Celtics barged their way in despite not being finished rebuilding. The Spurs dropped several seeds with a final day loss. Some very potent teams are getting ready to face off, so we’re here to give you our annual predictions on how things will turn out.

Our panel is largely in agreement as to who will advance, with one non-unanimous series winner per conference. It was a little trickier to decide which series would be struggles and which would be breezes, with only one unanimous choice there.

As usual, picking the winner of a series is worth two points, while guessing how many games a series will last is worth one point.

So there you have it. Complete picks are below; come back after the first round is complete to see the results. Continue reading 2015 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round »

Tags: , ,

"Pro Wrestling," NES

The NBA season is over, and it was a heck of a season. Much was decided on the final day, including both #8 seeds. Seeding itself was a big ado on that day, as San Antonio’s loss pushed them back all the way to #6 instead of being #2. As usual, the East was far weaker than the West, though there was still seed jockeying to be done there as well.

Stellar and unexpected seasons from the Hawks and Warriors helped shake up our standings, minimizing the points to be won from picking division winners. For the most part, it made it harder to get the ever valuable points from guessing seeds exactly right.

But in the midst off all the chaos, a winner has emerged from our panel. Since everyone is wondering who it is, the winner of the 2014-2015 NBA Pick ‘Em is.. Continue reading 2014-2015 NBA Expert Picks Results »

Tags: ,