The 2018-19 campaign has been full of ups and downs for the Celtics, who advanced to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season and entered this campaign with NBA Finals aspirations.
Boston’s potential for growth remains undeniable, though, even as questions about Kyrie Irving’s upcoming free agency cast uncertainty over the Celtics’ future.
ESPN insiders Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks listed the Celtics at No. 2 in their NBA Future Power Rankings back in September, behind only the Golden State Warriors, who are gunning for their fourth title in five seasons. And their confidence in Boston’s future hasn’t wavered over the past few months despite the Celtics battling a few hiccups this season.
Pelton and Marks still have the Celtics at No. 2 in their updated NBA Future Power Rankings released Wednesday on ESPN.com, again trailing only the defending champion Warriors.
Here’s what Marks wrote about the C’s:
Despite the pending free agency of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics remain No. 2. The reason? The possibility of four first-round picks (their own, the Kings’, the Grizzlies’ and the Clippers’) in the upcoming draft and players on controllable contracts (Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum) to either develop or use in a trade for a player such as Anthony Davis.
But there remains uncertainty this offseason. With Irving, Terry Rozier (restricted) and Marcus Morris — plus possibly Aron Baynes (player option) and Al Horford (player option) — set to be free agents, Boston could be looking at a mass exodus with little flexibility. In fact, Boston would have only $26 million in cap space available to replace its core free agents.
The latest version of ESPN’s NBA Future Power Rankings represents ESPN Insider’s projection of the on-court success expected for each team in the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. It takes into account five categories (Players, Management, Money, Market and Draft), with each team ranked relative to the rest of the NBA. Each team also received an overall Future Power Rating of 0 to 100, based on how well Pelton and Marks expect it to perform over the next three seasons.
Here’s how the Celtics fared in each category:
Players: T-5th (77.5)
Management: 4th (82.5)
Money: T-25th (25.0)
Market: T-8th (60.0)
Draft: T-2nd (90.0)
Overall Future Power Rating: 73.5
The Warriors posted a 73.8 overall Future Power Rating, suggesting the gap between Golden State and the rest of the NBA is closing amid some uncertainty in the Bay Area. The Denver Nuggets (72.7), Philadelphia 76ers (69.6) and Utah Jazz (68.1) round out the top five.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images