By Ryan Chan
After the Boston Celtics lost the 2022 NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, they had an offseason full of drastic changes.
The Celtics acquired key players – Malcolm Brogdon by trade and Danilo Gallinari by free agency. Unfortunately, the team soon lost Gallinari to a torn ACL, which was devastating as he looked to make an impact off the bench in the upcoming season. In addition, head coach Ime Udoka was suspended less than a week before training camp started for violations of team policies. Udoka played a vital role in shaping the Celtics’ strong defense last year and bringing them to the Finals. To fill in the loss of Ime Udoka, Celtics GM Brad Stevens named Joe Mazzulla as interim head coach. Mazzulla has been an assistant coach with the Celtics for a couple of years, and we will now get to see how well he handles the job of being head coach.
On the bright side, Brogdon has looked great during the preseason. He played with pace and displayed leadership when playing with the second unit, which is exactly what the Celtics lacked during the playoff run. Now, the Celtics have a go-to player off the bench who can score and create opportunities for others. During the preseason games, Brogdon tallied 20 assists in just three games. He pushed the ball in transition, and it took a lot of pressure off Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Look for Brogdon to be one of the candidates for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award this year.
During preseason, Blake Griffin was added to Boston’s roster after signing a one-year contract. Griffin stated that his role was “just some stability off the bench. [Celtics] obviously have centers and Rob [Williams] and Al [Horford] that have played big minutes. … Just some stability, whatever they need. If Al needs a break, if Rob needs a break, total utility. I didn’t come here demanding a certain type of role. It’s just to fill the gaps and help this team win a championship” (NBC Sports Boston).
Blake Griffin is looking to be a solid backup center willing to put his ego behind him for a championship. Playing for the Brooklyn Nets last season, the 33 year old drew a league-leading 26 charges, despite coming off the bench for 56 games. Along with Marcus Smart and Derrick White, who are also adept at drawing charges, the Celtics will look to force many offensive fouls. Overall, Blake Griffin is a solid backup that can be the next man up when needed.
With the season starting, the Celtics will have to hold the fort down until All-NBA defender Robert Williams III returns from his knee surgery. Until then, the Celtics show a lot of potential to be one of the top dogs in the league – with their improved duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and an improved roster with former playoff experience.