The Boston Celtics know that this season is supposed to be different. The years of flipping the roster, searching for gems and hoping for top talent in the draft are behind them.
Through any avenue available to them, the Celtics have assembled one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, and are set up the compete now while having one of the most promising futures in the NBA.
With all that in mind, this has been a disappointing start. The Celtics have not looked dominant, and have struggled against lesser competition. We saw in the preseason that they were far from a finished product, and it was remained true during the first few games.
The standard for the Celtics will not change. They are expected to be the number one seed in the East with this core’s first appearance in the NBA finals.
While that is the case, this season is still about development for one of the youngest and freshest teams in the NBA. Keep in mind, they have almost no minutes with Gordon Hayward playing, and not enough with Kyrie Irving healthy.
Add on the fact that they have a 20 year old and a 21 year old in key starting positions, and there is a lot of work that has to be done on this team. Not only does Brad Stevens need to figure out how all these pieces can best work together, he still needs to be thinking about the long term growth of the young talent on the team.
The Celtics have never been short minded in their rebuild, and that will still remain the same this season. The Celtics still know that their window will get bigger and more promising as their young talent comes together, and that is still a priority this season.
Fortunately, Stevens has been a master at improving his team throughout a season. Stevens always takes his time and plays around with the rotation. He makes sure to explore as many options as possible before settling. The Celtics have gone on unexpected playoff runs, and have stolen home court in the past.
This season, the improvement will not be reflected in their wins and loses, because they should still be winning as they are transitioning.
With this roster, Stevens has more options than even before and that could make the process even longer. Ideally, they will stay healthy and these players will get as much time as possible together.
No matter what, a huge part of this season is finally getting an idea of what the future will actually look like for this core. This roster has never worked together before and the Celtics need to be patient.
The standard of winning in the NBA is too high for the Celtics to waste anything they might have. Even if it means sacrificing wins, and giving the top players less responsibility, the regular season is about more than the wins and loses for this team.
Stevens needs to gather as much information and see how much these players are able to do. The Celtics know they have something special, but no one has any idea of how special they will be.
Unfortunately, they need to put in a lot of work and these young players need to develop quickly in order to actualize the kind of potential that will make them contenders.
The Celtics have an established roster that they are going to keep, but they are still in transition. Only after there is a solid sense of what these players can do on this team can we know how good they can be. After that, they will settle into the system they know is best with their talent.
The reality is that one season may not be enough. The Celtics know they have to be good this season, but they still need to be setting themselves up to be even better in the future. It will be a fun and often frustrating season for the Celtics but the bottom line is that they still need to grow in a lot of ways for this rebuild to work out the way many people are envisioning.
Right now, the older players are the ones that the Celtics need to be the most patient with. We have a better understanding of what Hayward and Irving can do. Their development is about getting to full strength, and that can work out well in this situation.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown need to do the opposite, and get the opportunities to show what they are capable of. It may hurt them on the scoreboard, but exploring what they can do while the stars get back to full strength can set this team up for a deadly run when things really matter.