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Five Things The 2023/24 Boston Celtics Taught Us

Five Things The 2023/24 Boston Celtics Taught Us

The 2023/24 NBA season is officially complete, and while we have already turned the page to the upcoming season, there’s still plenty of time to reflect on some of the biggest storylines from the past year. Here are five things we learned from the 2023/24 NBA Champions, the Boston Celtics.

You don’t need a top 5 player in the world to win a championship

One of the common themes amongst NBA championship teams over the past 15 years is the fact that a strong majority of them were led by a top 5 player in the world. You could certainly argue that just once over the past 15 years has a team won without a bona fide superstar (2013-14 San Antonio Spurs), and recent NBA history nearly demands this from a title contender.

However, this year’s Boston Celtics squad seems to have broken that mold. Jayson Tatum is an outstanding player, but I think it would be a pretty big reach to consider him one of the five best players in the world. Jaylen Brown had a brilliant playoff run, but didn’t even make an All-NBA team this year. Instead of banking on your “guy” being better than the other team’s “guy”, the Celtics simply built one of the most well-rounded teams in recent memory.

They had an All-Star duo capable of going toe-to-toe with the best in the world, a defensive backcourt that might still be giving Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic nightmares, and an experienced frontcourt that provided just enough support when they needed it. Everyone that stepped foot on the court was more than competent on both ends on the floor, allowing Boston to avoid mismatches on the defensive end while attacking them on offense.

They had a coach who was seemingly loved by everyone in the organization, and a GM in Brad Stevens who strung together move after move to put this roster in the position to succeed. The 2023/24 Celtics will be remembered as one of the best -teams- of all time, even if they lacked that superstar everyone thought they needed.

Patience is key

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are only 26 and 27 years old respectively, even if it feels like they are 35. They’ve been through more playoff battles than most duo’s go through in their whole career, with most of them ending in failure. After last year’s loss to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, it felt like the whole world was ready for Boston to finally split the duo up and move in a different direction.

But, like they always have, Brad Stevens and the Celtics doubled down, handing Jaylen Brown the largest contract extension in NBA history and putting their faith in this tandem once again. At last, their patience paid off and Tatum and Brown delivered Boston their first championship in 16 years. The Celtics kept knocking on the door, trusting that it would soon open up and reward them for their unwavering trust in their two franchise cornerstones.

With this, the rest of the NBA can learn a lesson. Success doesn’t come overnight, and you can’t expect players, especially young ones, to have immediate success in this league. The modern NBA seems to operate with such a short-term mindset that teams and groups of players only get one or two seasons to prove themselves before being split up.

Players need time to develop, coaches need time to learn, and it’s best if they can do that together for an extended period of time. Growth is not linear and it happens different for everyone. It might sound cliche, but hopefully this year’s Celtics can help more teams “Trust the Process” in the future.

Three-point shooting is the most important skill in the game today

What most people considered the biggest cause for concern about this year’s Celtics ended up being the most important reason they won an NBA championship. They were one of the most three-point reliant teams in NBA history, taking over 42 threes per game, and shooting them at a near 39% clip.

Ever since the beginning of the season, coach Joe Mazzulla made it clear that he wanted this group to shoot as many threes as they could, no matter the score, the opponent, or the circumstance. While this strategy provided some extreme variance from night to night, it’s clear that it can be an effective strategy for a team loaded with this many high-level shooters.

It felt like the Celtics were a three minute stretch of hot shooting away from winning any game by 30 points, simply because they refused to abandon the three-ball, no matter if it was falling or not. Boston rarely put any non-shooters on the court, and their top 8 players were all very legitimate threats from beyond the arc.

The game has been trending in this direction for a while now, and it feels like the Celtics showed the rest of the league just how valuable it is to have everyone on your roster be able to stretch the floor and shoot the three. The role of non-shooting guards and wings has diminished over the past ten years, and that archetype of player is headed towards being extinct in the modern NBA. High-level three-point shooting is no longer a bonus, it’s a requirement.

Greatness can be boring

After this year’s Finals, most of the talk seemed to be about the lack of “memorable moments”, “excitement”, or “aura”. I’m not going to sit here and convince you that it was the most entertaining Finals series of all-time, because it certainly wasn’t. But, I think that’s exactly what the Celtics were hoping for, and exactly what their season deserved.

There was no real drama, no all-time memorable moments, or no surprises. This championship felt inevitable for the Celtics from the first game of the season. They dominated the league from October to June, and looked like they were in full control the whole way.

They might have lacked those signature games or moments most NBA champions have, but who cares? Greatness doesn’t have to be flashy or loud, and it doesn’t have to make you feel some type of way. The Celtics showed us that sometimes greatness can be quiet, boring and rather mundane.

The rest of the league needs to stop trading with Brad Stevens

I hope Brad Stevens has enjoyed his first few years as GM of the Celtics, because his job might start to get pretty boring. Before long, the rest of the league might not even pick up the phone if they see Stevens calling, knowing that he’s about to find a way to pull off another trade that makes this Celtics team even better.

Since the 2022 trade deadline, Brad Stevens has acquired Derrick White, Kristaps Porzingis, and Jrue Holiday in trades while giving up nothing near that in return. He has pressed the right buttons over and over again, and is on as big of a hot streak as you can get on as a GM. Trading for Derrick White seemed rather insignificant at the time, but has turned out to be one of the biggest trade wins in the past decade of NBA basketball.

The Porzingis addition was just as perfect as he expected, even if Kristaps sat out most of the playoffs. The team looked virtually unbeatable with him healthy in the postseason. Stevens’ last stroke of genius came when Jrue Holiday made his way onto the market in September, and yet again, Stevens found a way to add more talent to his roster while maintaining the cohesion and chemistry of the group.

Even smaller moves like signing Sam Hauser and trading for Xavier Tillman proved to be important and valuable in their championship run. The new CBA will test Stevens’ abilities on a whole new level, but for now, let’s appreciate one of the best two-year stretches in NBA GM history.


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