Tumultuous, that’s the best way we can describe the Boston Celtics season thus far. Yet, one NBA analyst believes Boston’s problems stem from one simple issue, which could be resolved in the coming weeks: roster construction.
And one prominent reporter, who has been a frequent critic of the pairing of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum going back to last season, repeated that this week.
“You can’t do it alone. LeBron (James) couldn’t do it alone in Cleveland, you need somebody with you. Again, I’ll go back to it, it’s like banging my head against the wall. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown don’t fit together, they don’t play off one another, they don’t play well together consistently. So, either you need to add a third piece, or make a move that doesn’t involve Jayson Tatum,” Jeff Goodman said during a recent episode of The Garden Report.
According to Goodman, the Celtics should be going all-in to build around Jayson Tatum, and that begins with obtaining a natural playmaker, ideally a point guard. However, pass-first guards are in short supply around the NBA, which is why so many teams prefer to develop their star wings into “point-forwards,” but Goodman’s point still stands – the Celtics need playmaking help, fast.
Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers has recently been linked with the Celtics and is the nearest thing to a true playmaking point guard that’s on the market right now. Yet, Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes could be another option, that would come with less baggage and at a lower cost, the only downside is, Barnes isn’t a point guard or primary ball-handler.
Goodman Sees Tatum as Potential Top 5 Player
Despite Tatum’s slow start to the season, and looking past the recent shooting slump that saw him go 0-for-20 from deep, Tatum remains one of the best young talents in the NBA. While the All-Star wing’s early success with the Celtics has created some unrealistic expectations in the short term, it’s clear that Boston’s best chance at banner 18 is with Tatum as their primary offensive weapon.
“To me, there are not five better players in their prime that are more talented than Jayson Tatum. He can score, he can rebound at a high level – he couldn’t do that a few years ago – but now, he’s big, strong, and can go in there and fight for some boards. He can get it off the glass and run it up the floor.
But he doesn’t have anybody on his team that can get him the ball and make his life easier. That’s my biggest issue, this team is poorly constructed around a superstar. And I know he’s not Michael Jordan, he’s not LeBron (James) I’m not saying to put him that equation, but he’s as good as any player in their prime in terms of, if you give him enough around him,” Goodman said.
Of course, Tatum isn’t in the top-5 discussion at the moment, and there’s is still a long road ahead of him should he wish to get there. But there’s no denying the 6-foot-8 wing’s ability or his room for growth, and that’s an encouraging sign for Celtics fans worldwide.
Celtics Unlikely To Make a Big Move at the Trade Deadline
When Brad Stevens traded away Juancho Hernangomez for PJ Dozier and Bol Bol it was clear the move was made to inch closer to getting under the tax line. Since entering the front office, Stevens has consistently spoken of remaining financially flexible as a team and has made moves the sit in line with this narrative.
Avoiding a luxury tax bill for a non-contending team is a good place to start, should Stevens believe that the current roster is in need of a major overhaul. However, any major, or even mid-major, moves are likely to come during the off-season, when every team is taking stock of their current rotations and looking to upgrade.
As with any front office, the moves Stevens has made thus far and likely will make over the next few weeks, are all done with the notion of being viable in trade and free agency discussions for a star player. So, while Boston taking a big swing before the February 10 trade deadline seems like wishful thinking, we should all be very confident that Stevens would change course if the right offer came along.
It’s true, the Celtics need roster upgrades, and their current rotation has some flaws, but Stevens was always a pragmatic coach, so it makes sense he will stay true to himself in his new role as President of Basketball Operation.