Boston Celtics

Celtics Question of the Day: Who is the Celtics' leader this season?

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Celtics Question of the Day: Who is the Celtics' leader this season?

Paul Pierce is still the captain. Kevin Garnett remains the heart the Celtics. And Rajon Rondo is clearly the C's most dynamic player.

But who's leading this team?

All three players will in some fashion defer the leadership title to one of their teammates. But if you've paid attention to this team's evolution the past couple of years, it should be pretty clear that this is Rondo's team.

We're not talking about his team in the future. This is Rondo's team ... now.

That doesn't make Pierce and Garnett irrelevant in terms of their role with the franchise. What it does, more than anything, is clarify the direction that the C's are trending towards.

Look no further than the moves made by the Celtics this summer: Youth. Athleticism. Versatility.

You see a strong mix of all those traits in the players Boston added this offseason. But what you don't see is the addition of the aging veteran to a prominent role.

Why?

Because the C's core group of Pierce and KG are aging veterans.

Aware of this, Boston added talent and depth at those positions so they wouldn't be as dependent on those two to carry the team like they've done for so many years.

That's why they gave Jeff Green a four-year deal worth 36 million. They did that with the knowledge that he will someday replace Pierce at small forward and that his strength -- running the floor -- plays well off of one of Rondo's best qualities.

Boston drafted Fab Melo because he has the potential to be a game-changing defender in the middle like Garnett which would allow Rondo to get out and run more in transition.

The Celtics drafted Jared Sullinger because he has the potential to deliver points in the paint a la Garnett, while Brandon Bass can help spread the floor, like Garnett, with the pick-and-pop game he runs with Rondo.

You go down the line of new additions, and they all in some way benefit the play of Rondo.

Both Pierce and KG will continue to have prominent voices and a presence inside the locker room. But Celtics coach Doc Rivers has said many times that this is Rondo's team, and the way the Celtics are constructed, it's pretty clear that's never been more true.

30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

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30 teams in 30 days: Grit-and-Grind days are over in Memphis

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Memphis Grizzlies. 

Memphis is no different than any other NBA team when it comes to making changes.
 
It’s an inevitable part of the NBA.

 
There are changes, and then there’s losing Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to free agency.
 
They didn’t lose the face of their franchise.
 
They lost its backbone.
 
And when you throw in the departure of Vince Carter, the Grizzlies are getting younger and more athletic and maybe just as significant, further removed from the physical, rough-and-tough brand of basketball they played for years.

You’ll have to go to YouTube to see Grit-and-Grind anymore.
 
Still, this isn’t all that surprising when you consider they brought in a new coach last year, David Fizdale, who came from Miami but also spent time on the bench as an assistant in Atlanta and Golden State.

Those teams played a more position-less, free-flowing brand of basketball compared to the Grizzlies.
 
So what we’re starting to see now is a Memphis team that will eventually look and hopefully play, more akin to what their coach envisions.
 
While the DNA of this team has changed dramatically, the Grizzlies will still be among the teams battling for one of the last playoff spots in the West this season.
 
They return Marc Gasol who still ranks among the best centers in the NBA. They also have point guard Mike Conley Jr., who unfortunately still holds the title for the best veteran player to not be named to an NBA All-Star team.
 
He’s coming off his best season as a pro when he averaged career highs in scoring (20.5 points per game) and shooting (45.9 percent from the field, 40.7 percent on 3’s) along with 3.5 rebounds, also a career benchmark.
 
In addition, Conley’s 6.3 assists per game were just 0.2 assists away from tying his career best in that category.
 
But for Memphis to surprise many and extend its playoff run to eight years in a row, the Grizzlies’ inside-outside tandem of Gasol and Conley, will need help.
 
A healthy Chandler Parsons would be a huge boost.
 
One of the more versatile wing players in the league, injuries have left Parsons a shell of the player that he once was.
 
He has had each of his past three seasons end prematurely due to injuries, so it’s hard to imagine Memphis will be banking on him to be healthy enough to make a major impact on the team this season.
 
They added Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans, both from Sacramento, to the roster this season.
 
Both come into training camp competing for a starting job.
 
The Grizzlies also have high hopes for 6-9 forward Rade Zagorac, a second-round pick in 2016 acquired from Boston who spent an additional year overseas before coming over to the NBA.
 
The new faces will be critical to the success of Memphis in those post Grit-and-Grind era.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Ben McLemore (Sacramento); Tyreke Evans (Sacramento).
 
Key losses: Zach Randolph (Sacramento); Tony Allen (New Orleans); Vince Carter (Sacramento).
 
Rookies of note: Rade Zagorac; Ivan Rabb; Dillon Brooks.
 
Expectations: 33-49 (fourth in the Southwest Division, 11th in the West).
 

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