Before anyone goes into their, “I’ve got so many people to thank” acceptance speech, let’s make something clear: this was a terrible Celtics season. Just awful. When the final buzzer sounds on Wednesday night’s Celtics-Wizards contest, it will mark the end of the worst Celtics season since 2006-07, when the team won 24 games. In the last 50 years the Celtics have won fewer than 25 games just four times, and one of those was in a lockout-shortened season. This year was a stinker on an historical level.
Given the events of last offseason and the impending NBA Draft, the losing wasn’t unexpected. Celtics fans have plenty to forward to. But we before we turn our attention to which 19-year-old kid is going to save the franchise, let’s pause to hand out a few awards to the current team. Without further ado, the debut of Boston.com’s “Celtie Awards”…
— Coach with the Mostest: Brad Stevens
There admittedly wasn’t much competition here, but Stevens managed to steer the Celtics away from any Bobby Valentine-esque clubhouse chaos despite all the losing. Across the board, players on the team vouched for his preparedness and character. ESPN even ranked Stevens as the 11th-best coach in the NBA. Without much to believe in, Stevens provides maybe the brightest hope for Celtics fans in danger of tuning their team out.
— Most improved player: Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk had a classic rookie season. He was overhyped in Summer League, looked lost early, and improved dramatically as the season went along. In 13 November games he shot 38 percent from the floor; in 14 March games he shot 51 percent, improving to 53 percent in April. His defense is still a work in progress, but with above-average floor vision and improved shooting, he proved he can settle into the NBA game.
— Best imitation of Rajon Rondo: Rajon Rondo
To the utter shock of myself (admittedly), Rondo looked more like himself in 2014 than I ever thought he could coming off a serious knee injury. He averaged close to 10 assists per game. He did stuff like this:
Looks like a franchise player to me.
— Team MVP: Tie, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass
This was by far the toughest award. Sullinger took the step everyone hoped he could this season, averaging close to a double-double and becoming a focal point of the offense. Bass continued to be his solid self, making more than 48 percent of his shots from the floor and 86 percent of his free throws. Both players went up against taller opponents the entire season and held their own despite being out of position.
— Biggest loss: Courtney Lee
Since being traded in January, Lee has started 46 games with the playoff-bound Memphis Grizzlies, averaging 11 points per game. A contending Celtics team would never let go of a player like Lee, but the Celtics weren’t contenders this season and likely won’t be next season, making him expendable. One of the hardest parts of watching a team rebuild is seeing useful players go elsewhere.
— Biggest surprise: Kris Humphries
Until someone replaces him, Kris Humphries is going to hold up as my all-time example of why preconceived notions suck. Not many people gave Humphries a chance when he arrived this summer, but he’s blended in beautifully on the court as a tough-nosed rebounder and defender. Of the court, Celtics staffers rave about how easy he is to deal with. I’ll hop on the bandwagon now as someone who really, really wants Humphries back next year.
— Least surprising development: Jeff Green
The Globe’s Baxter Holmes captured the sentiment all of us have felt about Green this season in Wednesday’s Globe. He is who he is, a talented player who can light it up but who “needs help”, as Green and Danny Ainge will attest. Nothing Green did this season changed that. He’s not overrated or overpaid. He’s just about right, and given the right supporting cast, he could be the kind of guy who tips the scales.
— Biggest disappointment: Lack of resolution
The “fireworks” are coming this summer, according to Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, but it’s still disappointing on many levels to have watched a team play 82 basketball games and not have a good grip on what’s next. Rondo’s situation is still fluid, as is that of Avery Bradley, whose offense this season was a pleasant surprise.
Was this season worth it? Who the heck knows. Right now it just feels like no fun.