Celtics Are Fifth-Best Team In NBA, According To Recent ESPN Forecast


The Boston Celtics haven’t reached the top of the NBA mountain yet, but they’re continuing to ascend.

Expectations are high for the Celtics after they followed a strong 2015-16 campaign by signing All-Star forward Al Horford this offseason. And while they’re still not even the team to beat in their own conference, ESPN.com likes their outlook for the 2016-17 season.

In its NBA Summer Forecast, which polls about 200 “experts” and aggregates their predictions, ESPN ranks the Celtics as the fifth-best team in the NBA, forecasting a 51-31 record for this season.

The Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 2 overall, 57-25) are the only team ranked ahead of the C’s in the Eastern Conference. Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors (67-15) unsurprisingly top the list, while the San Antonio Spurs (No. 3, 57-25) and Los Angeles Clippers (No. 4, 52-30) round out the top five.

The Toronto Raptors are pegged at No. 6 but are projected to have the same record as Boston.

The Celtics haven’t recorded a 50-win season since 2010-2011, but they’re certainly set up to change that. With the exception of Evan Turner, head coach Brad Stevens essentially has the same core group that won 48 regular-season games last season, and now can pair All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas with Horford and a promising rookie in Jaylen Brown.

In fact, one could argue that 51 wins is a conservative estimate, but ESPN.com apparently isn’t as bullish on Horford.

“Does it shortchange Boston to suggest Al Horford and No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown are worth only three wins? Perhaps,” the panel writes. “But though accomplished, Horford has been a part of only two 50-win teams in his nine-year NBA career.”

We’re not sure what Horford’s past with the Atlanta Hawks has to do with his role in Boston, but a tick above 50 wins does seem reasonable for a Celtics team that should, at the very least, be fun to watch this season.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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