Too many mouths to feed.
Among the many “what is wrong with the Celtics?” theories the idea that there are too many players who want touches and shots had a lot of traction around the league. Last playoffs, then rookie Jayson Tatum, second-year player Jaylen Brown, and “scary” Terry Rozier had increased roles — and thrived. They were the alphas (along with Al Horford), the guys with the ball in their hands leading a team to the conference finals, and they liked it — these are young players trying to carve out a role (or, in Rozier’s case, prove to other team’s he’s a starting point guard) and they didn’t want to take a step back. But that’s what had to happen with the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the rotation. The result was a lack of a pecking order on offense, uncomfortable sacrifices, and precious little of the fluid play that got them within a game of the Finals a year ago.
Rozier seems to agree with that theory, speaking to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports in a story about Kyrie Irving’s adjustment to being a leader.
“I don’t think we’ve all been on a team like this,” Rozier told Yahoo. “Young guys who can play, guys who did things in their career, the group that was together last year, then you bring Kyrie and Hayward back, it’s a lot with it.”
When asked if the roster was too talented, Rozier didn’t back down.
“Too talented, yeah. Too talented.”
If everyone buys in, if everyone sacrifices (including Irving), if guys are willing to accept a role, all that talent can make the Celtics versatile and the team everyone expected. The team to beat in the East.
To get there will require Irving to be a leader — in words and actions. That’s more than just calling out the young core, it’s getting them involved and feeling like contributors so they are willing to make sacrifices. It’s doing the little things yourself. Can Irving do all that and turn Boston into the conference favorite we expected.
Or were Nets fans right, he is going to get frustrated and leave this summer?
The second half of this season in Boston is going to be fascinating.