Celtics

Fortifying Frontcourt Boston’s Top Priority

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Heading into the season, many thought the Boston Celtics would be a force in the Eastern Conference. After 30 games, the team sits at a pedestrian 15-15, good for sixth in the East.

Many blame the C’s bad luck with injuries along with losing games against bad teams. However, those reasons are part of the game and cannot be an excuse every time.

It seems Boston always has a good team only to come up short in the playoffs. Last season, they lost to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston was the better team overall, but Miami exposed their weaknesses. Boston’s most significant problems seemed to be in the frontcourt, along with good players off the bench.

Addressing Team Needs

Fans thought Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague would remedy the teams’ shortcomings.

But it hasn’t.

They also thought drafting Aaron Nesmith with the 14th overall pick would help as well.

But that move didn’t help either. They are all still having their share of great games but are not delivering the immediate impact many hoped they would bring. Boston seems to be confident enough to run it back with the same squad with those acquisitions aside.

With the 2021 trade deadline looming, the C’s should contemplate making a splash to strengthen their team. Personnel wise, these players fit what Boston was looking to improve, but they are not playing well enough to push Beantown over the hump. If Jayson Tatum and Co. want to bring the Larry O’Brien trophy back to TD Garden, the Celtics’ brass must make a strong push for a star that fits a need.

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Available Assets

Boston arguably has one of the league’s best trade stockpiles. Between the largest Traded Player Exception (TPE) in NBA history along with a plethora of young talent and draft picks, they should not have a problem making a tempting offer for any player on the market. The Celtics can package the $28.5 million TPE with players such as Grant Williams, Tremont Waters, or Carsen Edwards in an aggressive move.

These trade chips can acquire a talented wing player or big man, their most significant needs. Boston should shop players like Waters and Edwards, as they play minimal minutes. Bundling these pieces will catch the eyes of any team willing to take in young talent. With the trade deadline inching closer, here are a few players Boston should examine.

JOHN COLLINS

With the frontcourt lacking this season, Ainge should call up the Atlanta Hawks and make a deal for Collins. The 23-year-old fits seamlessly with the core’s young timeline and would bolster Boston’s attack on the wing. Acquiring him would alleviate Tatum and Jaylen Brown‘s pressure while giving the C’s another scoring-efficient option. His most outstanding contribution would potentially be his athleticism, along with rebounding and shooting.

He is an upgrade over Thompson and Daniel Theis down low and can stretch the floor better than Boston’s current big men. The Wake Forest product can score at all three levels, which can be a difference-maker in the playoffs if players like Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker are not playing well.

So far this season, Collins is close to achieving the illustrious 50-40-90 stat line. (although he gets overlooked by the impressive numbers of his teammate, Trae Young.) Given he doesn’t appear to be in Atlanta’s long-term future plans, trading for the athletic big makes sense.

CLINT CAPELA

If a deal with Collins doesn’t work out, Boston could look to acquire another Hawk. Making a splash for Clint Capela seems to be a good fit. Similar to Collins, Clint is young and is similar in age to the current core (26). Adding Capela would introduce a defensive anchor into the Boston offense, which seems to be one of the missing ingredients in the Celtics’ winning formula. Replacing the undersized with Clint would allow Boston to matchup better defensively against bigger and better centers.

Additionally, he would elevate the teams’ defense to another level. He averages 2.2 blocks per game, compared to Theis’ 1.1 and Timelord’s (Robert Williams) 1.4 blocks per game. Bringing in Clint would give Boston a solid defender and rim protector down low, which proved to be a vital issue in previous seasons.

ANDRE DRUMMOND

If neither of the aforementioned deals work out, a third option could be making a run at Andre Drummond. He would bring a necessary rebounding upgrade to the team. Similar to John and Clint, Drummond is a required upgrade for Boston’s interior. The former Connecticut Husky averages 17.5 points while grabbing 13.5 rebounds per contest prior to being removed from Cleveland’s lineup.

In comparison, he is scoring more than eight more points per game than Theis and corralling 5.3 more rebounds a game than Thompson. Acquiring the second-best rebounder this season would make Boston a more rugged paint team while allowing fewer second-chance points. Trading away one of these two along with the TPE and Boston’s young guards should be enticing enough for Cleveland.

With the Cavaliers sitting the 27-year-old until the deadline, Boston should get to negotiations before another franchise does.

OUTLOOK

With Boston in need of an improvement at center, Ainge should (and will) start dialing phones. Although they can look at other positions on their roster, a solid big is paramount for playoff prosperity. Boston uses the TPE combined with Tremont, Carsen, Grant, or picks to make a big deal in an ideal situation.

Between all their assets, they should have no problem swinging an exchange for any of these three players.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsLead for the latest Celtics news and insight. 

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