Celtics Odds: What does Kyrie Irving do for Boston Title Chances?

kyrie-isiah-thomas-celticsThe Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the biggest trade of the 2017 NBA offseason. Kyrie Irving is going to the Boston Celtics, while Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first round pick are going to the Cavaliers.

The deal makes sense for both teams on paper. Crowder and Thomas help the Cavs compete for a championship in what may be LeBron’s final season in Cleveland. And Boston gets a taller point guard who’s somewhat better at defense – all while keeping their core assets.

Boston makes the biggest leap here from an immediate perspective. But is it enough to push the Celtics towards a title? Find out as we analyze the deal from Boston’s perspective. We’ll also cover how the trade affects the Cavaliers.

Boston Accomplishes 2 Things with Irving Trade

While the Celtics have a strong core, the one thing plaguing them is the lack of a true superstar. Thomas was the closest thing, averaging 28.9 PPG and 5.9 APG. However, he’s constantly critiqued for being too small (5’8″) on the defensive end.

They also have Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart, who are all quite good. But Hayward is a fringe All-Star while the other three are on an even lower tier.

This all changes with Irving, though, who has the ability to take over games with his driving ability. He averaged 25.2 PPG last season while playing alongside fellow All-Stars LeBron James and Kevin Love. Irving has also been to the NBA Finals three straight times, which is invaluable for a group that just made the conference finals last year.

Another thing that the Celtics accomplish is avoiding handing Thomas a max deal. The All-Star point guard has been great on the scoring end.

But it was a necessity to keep shooting guard Avery Bradley (now with Pistons) around to cover up Thomas’ defensive deficiencies. That said, many analysts have questioned whether giving Thomas a 5-year max deal was a smart decision. Now they don’t have to worry about it any longer.

Ainge Pulls the Trigger

jaylen-brown-bostonFour years ago, the Brooklyn Nets gifted Boston with a package of first-round picks that had other teams salivating. But Ainge had been reluctant to unload the picks, even using one this season to trade down to the No. 3 selection.

The result is that the Celtics have accumulated young talent like Jaylen Brown and Duke forward Jayson Tatum. Many wondered when Ainge would finally use these picks and/or young talent to land a superstar.

The good news is that it only took a single Nets pick, a player they didn’t want to re-sign anyways, and Crowder. The latter is a valuable two-way player. However, Crowder became more expendable when Hayward was signed this offseason.

The Celtics have dramatically changed their roster since losing 4-1 to Cleveland in the conference finals. Now, only Brown, Horford, Smart, and Terry Rozier remain from last year’s team.

Overall, Boston is a Better Team

kyrie-vs-jeff-teagueIrving wasn’t cheap, After all, Boston had to give up Crowder, Thomas, and the Nets’ 2018 first pick. But this is a worthy risk when considering what Kyrie can do for their team.

What’s more is that they still have young talent in Rozier, Tatum, and Brown to build around for years to come. If they can re-sign Irving in 2019, then the 25-year-old point guard will also play a pivotal role in their future.

Can they dethrone Cleveland in the East?

It’s not a given. But we can be sure that Boston is much closer than they were last week. Furthermore, they also have the impressive combination of scoring and long-limbed athletes who can compete with the Golden State Warriors.

How does the Trade Impact Cleveland?

jae-crowder-celticsThis has been far from a dream offseason for the Cavs. They started the summer by parting ways with general manager David Griffin. Then came the bombshell that Irving had requested a trade to a handful of successful teams.

Given the trade request, it was clear that Irving wanted to be elsewhere. But it wasn’t clear until now what value they could get from a player with only two years left on his contract.

In the end, things worked out pretty well for Cleveland because they got players that can help them complete now in Thomas and Crowder. Plus they received what figures to be a lottery pick in next summer’s draft.

The Cavs may opt not to sign Thomas to a max deal in the offseason. But Crowder is on a very team-friendly deal for the next three years. And they can either use the pick to build for the future, or trade it for a better chance to win now.

Yet another plus is that they’ll save lots of money in luxury tax payments after dealing Irving’s max contract. Additionally, Cleveland has some flexibility to put together a team, which is something that they just didn’t have entering the offseason as a capped-out franchise.

Does Cleveland Win the East in 2018?

Thomas certainly doesn’t help Cleveland’s defensive efforts. After all, he’s already one of the league’s worst defenders at his position. And he doesn’t figure to get any better coming off a surgically repaired hip.

isaiah-thomas-celticsBut Thomas offers plenty from an offensive perspective. He had a true shooting percentage of .625 and is better than anybody at getting to the free throw line.

He should pair well on offense with James, Love, and J.R. Smith. Thomas also shoots the three well (37.9%), which is important when playing with an excellent passer like James.

Crowder is one of the best values in the league for his contract size. He’s due $6.8 million this year, $7.3 million next season, and $7.8 million in the 2019-20 campaign. This is a major bargain when considering that Crowder is a good scorer (13.9 PPG), shooter (39.9% from three), and defender.

The last part is important because Cleveland needs another strong wing defender besides James. Moreover, he could cover Durant while James slides over to Draymond Green and conserves energy against the Warriors.

Many wonder if James will leave Cleveland in free agency after this season. If that happens, at least the Cavs have Brooklyn’s pick and a 2016 first-rounder in Zizic to accelerate their rebuild.

Celtics Sign Gordon Hayward – Impact on 2018 Odds

gordon-hayward-isaiah-thomasThe Boston Celtics set their sights on Gordon Hayward ever since the 2017 offseason began. And their efforts proved fruitful as they landed the former Utah Jazz forward.

Hayward gives this club another star besides point guard Isaiah Thomas. And the 6’8″ forward better positions this team to get past the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 Playoffs.

But just how good are Boston’s chances of making the NBA Finals with Hayward? Find out as we cover what he’ll do for the Celtics 2018 odds.

Hayward is the Perfect Fit

Paul George, another Boston offseason target, also could’ve made the Celtics much better. But there are questions of how another ball-dominant player would’ve fit in with Thomas.

hayward-boston-oddsBoston doesn’t need to worry about answering these questions now because Hayward will make a seamless transition to this team.

The 6-year veteran can be a playmaker, spot-up shooter, driver, decoy…basically, whatever Boston needs. Just as important as his offensive versatility is Hayward’s defensive prowess. He can guard multiple positions, defend the pick and roll, and has length (7-foot wingspan).

Hayward is somebody who’s improved every year in the league. Last season, he averaged a career-high 21.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and shot 39.8% from the 3-point line. With good shooting, great defense, and playmaking ability, Hayward is the total package for Boston.

The Celtics are Even Deeper

Thanks to their trade robbery of the Brooklyn Nets a few years ago, the Celtics just keep getting better and better.

jaylen-brown-celticsLast summer, they added forward Jaylen Brown with the third-overall pick. And Brown showed flashes of a great player as his playing time increased during the season.

This year, the Celtics picked up Duke small forward Jayson Tatum. Yet another versatile forward, Tatum has the potential to be the best offensive player in the draft.

Now, add these players to a lineup that already includes Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Hayward, and Marcus Smart. This possibly makes for the league’s best defensive team, and one of the deepest too.

Hayward is a Proven Winner

The Celtics know how to win since they finished first in the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 record. And now, they add another winner to their roster.

Hayward was the center of Utah’s rebuild, as the team showed the following improvement over the past four seasons: 25 wins, 38 wins, 40 wins, 51 wins.

It’s possible that the Jazz would’ve experienced another increase in 2018. But Hayward saw a better opportunity by joining the East’s top regular-season team. Now, he has a clearer path to the Finals that doesn’t include the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs.

Danny Ainge Avoids Losing in the 2017 Offseason

On a side note, Boston GM Danny Ainge avoids the scrutiny that he’s been facing over not landing a major free agent this summer. After all, Ainge is sitting on a pile of draft picks over the next few years, and people want to see him turn these picks into proven players.

celtics-aingeThe Celtics could’ve gotten Jimmy Butler for the third-overall selection. They also failed to trade for George, although he’s expressed his desire to sign with the LA Lakers next summer.

If Ainge had also failed to sign Hayward, it would’ve really put a damper on this offseason. But now, Boston has a prized free agent and looks to be a much stronger team moving forward.

Hayward Gives Boston a Height Upgrade

Hayward’s height will certainly help this undersized team. The four Boston players who log the most minutes include PG Thomas (5’9″), SG Bradley (6’2″), SF Crowder (6’6″), and C Al Horford (6’9″).

Even in the small-ball era, this is small. But when you throw Hayward in Crowder’s spot – or alongside him – he gives Boston more height and length. Assuming Brown plays heavier minutes, this will give Boston yet one more sizable wing.

What will Boston do with Jae Crowder?

jae-crowder-celticsCrowder is an invaluable part of the Celtics’ core. But Hayward plays the same position as Crowder and is an upgrade.

This leaves Boston with the following three options moving forward:

  • Put Crowder at power forward, which puts him at a disadvantage against bigger lineups.
  • Bring him off the bench.
  • Trade him.

The latter scenario is the most viable. The 5-year veteran is highly coveted for his defense and three-point shooting (39.8%). Plus, Boston has Brown and Tatum on the roster, who’ll both need time to develop.

The Celtics would do best to trade Crowder while he still has maximum value. After all, his numbers will dwindle when he’s coming off the bench.

Does Hayward Give Boston a Chance to Beat Cleveland?

Currently, we have the Celtics at +1000 odds of winning the 2018 NBA championship. This is tied for third best with the San Antonio Spurs, and behind both the Cleveland Cavaliers (+350) and Warriors (-220).

gordon-hayward-jazzThe Cavs are the important one here because they dismantled Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. However, adding Hayward gives them a legitimate chance to beat Cleveland.

But barring any major Cleveland injuries, we still don’t see Boston getting by them. The biggest problem is that Hayward plays the same position as one of Boston’s top-4 players. And while Hayward is an upgrade over Crowder, he doesn’t significantly improve their team from last year.

But with rumors about LeBron James bolting Cleveland after this season, Boston is poised to rule the East. They also look like a team that’ll contend for the title very soon too.