While we all wait for Gordon Hayward’s departure to finalize, a question to ponder: Are the Boston Celtics better than they were at the end of last season?
The simple answer is no. You don’t lose an All-Star talent like Hayward and suggest that your ceiling got higher. But the discussion is a bit more complicated than that and might require the benefit of time.
The Celtics most certainly got better on the margins. Tristan Thompson is a championship-owning boost at the center position and Jeff Teague is a necessary lift at the backup point guard spot, particularly given the concerns about Kemba Walker’s knee.
Time will tell if first-round picks Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard can help this team but, if their skill sets translate from the college level — and whispers from first glimpses inside the Auerbach Center were encouraging, particularly for Pritchard — the first-rounders have potential to boost a previously inconsistent Boston bench.
Celtics Talk Podcast: View from Charlotte – Waiting for the Hayward sign-and-trade and how much should we worry about Kemba’s knee? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube
There’s an argument to be made that Hayward’s health woes were so perpetual that his absence doesn’t leave quite the void that might be perceived. We’d push back on this a bit. Hayward’s presence, sporadic as it was, differentiated the Celtics. No team in the East had a fourth option quite like him. What’s more, the numbers…