Expectations in sports are fluid, they change with the progress of time. High expectations are tempered, low expectations can be raised. All it takes is a good or bad stretch of play, a random injury, or a bit of luck. In the off-season, trades and other personnel changes can drastically alter how a fan base feels about his favorite team.
So, following an off-season full of change, what is a realistic expectation at the start of the 2013-14 basketball season for the Boston Celtics? The expectations need to go beyond this season. For the first time in 6 years the Celtics will not be contenders to win the NBA Championship. They could potentially be a playoff team if Rajon Rondo gets healthy quick, Jeff Green turns those brilliant flashes of talent into a steady glow, and the veterans play with a chip on their shoulder instead of just eating chips.
Those are all very big question marks. However, the expectation for this season should be that the team improves and blazes a clear path toward the future. The expectation should be that at the end of this season a lot of the questions that exist right now are answered, leading to a better team in October 2014.
Brad Stevens signed a 7-year contract, there are a lot of young players on this team, and a handful of players playing for contracts (Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Crawford, and Jared Sullinger).
The expectation for the 2013-14 season is that there is more hope next summer, some more talent, and that Danny Ainge has defined the direction he wants this team to go in. Obviously, a big addition would be a high draft pick that pans out. That's the scary part for Celtics fans, even with the great free agency class next summer, the Celtics have never truly signed a great free agent. They have built through trades and the draft.
As training camp begins, and the uniforms start to flash on the TV, and the quotes start to blast through the radio, it's natural for fans to get themselves excited. Those expectations are full of something else, hope. The hope that maybe there's a bit of luck on the Celtics' side and that other teams succumb to their own expectations and have bad years.
Patience will be a more useful method for dealing with this Celtics team. Fans will need to Temper expectations and understanding that Danny Ainge has rebuilt this team once already. Ainge also has the ability, knowledge, and assets to give it another very good run again over the next few years.
So let's set our expectations, enjoy the rebuilding ride, and in three years if the Celtics are still 27th in ESPN's power rankings, then fans have a right to be upset.
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