There are no two more historic franchises in NBA history than the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Throughout League history, these two teams have rivaled each other in their efforts for championship supremacy. The rest of the League might be content with a competitive season. However, these two franchises are only content when their teams are contending for title. That being said, as a Celtics fan, we weigh our our roster’s success based on its abilities to contend for an NBA championship in the near or distant futures. Celtics fans don’t get it: Lakers roster is better.
Since Shaquille O’Neal, no championship center has averaged top 60 in touches per possession in the NBA. When evaluating starting roster differences, Al Horford is the only advantage in comparison to the Lakers’ Timofey Mozgov. When you consider the way the NBA is trending and its reliance on the wing positions, this advantage is almost irrelevant when discussing which franchise is closer to winning an NBA championship.
Moving on to the forwards position, Julius Randle has emerged as the Lakers’ best player this season. The 6’9 “Mobile Z-Bo” has been active on both ends of the floors with the Lakers. He continues to not back down from anyone as he performs in Luke Walton’s fun fast paced offense. Whether you compare him to Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, or even Kelly Olynyk, Randle has the advantage. While it may excite Celtics fans to have the current advantage at the small forward position, this probably won’t last for long. Lakers’ rookie Brandon Ingram is expected to become a star in the NBA. Now, I will not be naive to conclusively say that he will definitely be a star player or even better than Jae Crowder, but the odds are in his favor. I will touch on Jaylen Brown a bit later.
As for the guards position, this is really where the Lakers excel. I had previously mentioned that D’Angelo Russell would become the next great NBA point guard. Standing at 6’5, D’Angelo Russell has a clear size advantage over the Celtics’ current best player, the 5’9 Isaiah Thomas. On the defensive end of the ball, Isaiah Thomas has been atrocious which has aided in the Boston Celtics taking a step back on their defensive efforts this season. Its quite simple, larger guards are bullying Isaiah repeatedly. As for Jordan Clarkson, his the many things he bring on offense outweigh Avery Bradley’s total value. The hard working defensive stopper is simply often injured, which makes this match up somewhat of a coin toss. Bradley’s skill set fit in well with Brad Stevens’ offense, but when paired with Isaiah Thomas, he’s often stuck guarding his match ups. Avery, 6’2, is also undersized which make the Celtics’ back court simply too small.
While Brad Stevens has been revered for his intelligence and ability to bring the best out of his players, Luke Walton has already proven that he has the ability to run a successful offense and has brought it with him to the Lakers. The sample size is too small but one thing is certain, he is no scrub. Meanwhile on the green side, the Celtics aren’t playing up to their maximum potential like they had been in the two years prior. Its early and quite frankly, the coaching advantage is not crystal clear for Brad Stevens.
The ray of hope for Boston:
The two best pieces on the Boston Celtics are rookie Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. Unlike Avery and Isaiah, Marcus is not undersized for the guard position. Marcus is a 6’4, very physical guard with a limited offensive skill set thus far. The unfortunate news for Celtics fans is that Marcus hasn’t emerged as a potential stud on this team just yet. While his hard work has earned him some notoriety around the League in flashes, consistency whether due to talent or health just hasn’t been there. The Celtics’ inability to develop Marcus into an emerging star worries me about their ability to develop Jaylen Brown. If you’re an optimist, its been clear that the Celtics have been making developing Brown a priority…. as they leave him in late in losses (wamp wamp).
In my opinion, the Boston Celtics need to trade Isaiah Thomas and start Marcus Smart. Many Thomas fans believe that Smart is incapable of running an offense. My question to them is, why do you believe that? Smart has never been given the keys to the offense like D’Angelo Russell has been given them. With the Boston Celtics, Smart hasn’t been tasked to play the traditional point guard role in mass minutes just yet. I personally see a young stud who shined in college and is ready to be given the opportunity to shine at this level as well. In addition to that, adding Gordon Hayward to the Celtics roster would be an ideal situation. We could do this without trading Thomas, but I’m not sure you can expect an all-star player to take a backseat role in the prime of his career; which is unfortunate because our playoff small-ball lineup would potentially be:
- PG: Smart
- SG: Hayward
- SF: Brown
- PF: Crowder
- C: Al Horford
- BE: Thomas
Celtics fans, the last time a small guard was the best player on his team has to win an NBA championship, ironically, trace back all the way back to Isiah Zeke Thomas. Iverson couldn’t do it, and Thomas is no Iverson. If you want to fill sits, keep Thomas. If you want to win a title, NBA fans should start calling for Marcus Smart to start.
Bottom line: Unless Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown develop to compete with the young Lakers, the Celtics are in trouble in terms of competing for a title before or while the Lakers do. Lakers fans, from a Celtics fan, your team has a whole lot of potential and you should be very exited.
Disagree or agree with me? Tweet me at: @TPRx11