Originally written on Celtics Green ...a boston celtics blog.  |  Last updated 10/3/14
Yesterday I talked about the difference between the burn to be great and the smolder to be mediocre.  That seems a perfect lead in to discuss some young Celtics with a real opportunity to dramatically improve.  It doesn’t mean that they will, but early signs are encouraging.  Every great player has come back the next fall with something new—physique, inside moves, extended range, or an off hand that is no longer a liability.  Examples are McHale (who came in a midrange shooter but developed a plethora of inside tricks, hence becoming a torture-rack for hapless defenders), Jordan (who lacked a three-point attack coming out of college), and Jabbar (who in the pros developed the sky hook which is widely held to be the most unstoppable weapon ever devised). With this in mind prime candidates for most improved Celtic include Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger.  For each of these players this offseason might very well be a game changer.  Once again, it does not mean that it will, but each of these guys has shown an eagerness to put in the effort and it may payoff handsomely for them (and for the Celtics and their fan-atics). In Bradley’s case this will essentially be his first offseason and camp to work on his game.  He may be a three-year veteran but this will be his initial opportunity for an offseason workload and his first full speed camp.  Coming out of college he underwent ankle surgery, missed the entire offseason, and was still severely hampered during training camp.  The next year was the lockout with no summer leagues and a greatly curtailed training camp.  Last year it was double shoulder surgery and he not only missed summer workouts, was restricted in training camp, but also spent the first half of the season still rehabbing and never got completely right.  This past season many decried his lost touch from outside and his awkward inability to finish around the basket.  I think he spent the entire year recuperating and this is a straightforward explanation of his offensive woes.   This summer is his first healthy and working one as a pro and I believe we will see a jump in his game.  I am such a believer that I would like to see him get an extension similar to the one Perk got even though his first three years were hardly proof of his worth.  Here’s hoping Danny can/will lock him up to a team-friendly long-term contract before a breakout year. I recently saw a quote from Jared Sullinger about how he has been dragging his right leg around for the past two years. If the back surgery solves the dead leg and constant back pain, it is not unreasonable to expect that we will see a quantum leap in his conditioning and leg and back strength,  Just cleared for basketball activities, his work ethic should propel him into much better shape, and if so, better mobility and jumping ability.  As much as his junk-in-the-trunk bolstered his war in the paint, I think increased strength will do the same; and a leaner and quicker Sully would nicely complement his already impressive array of weapons.  This will likely not be obvious in training camp, after all he is just beginning basketball activities with just over seven weeks until Press Day; but will likely become increasingly apparent as the season wears on. So there you have it—my choices for breakout players; and due to a new lease on health and an opportunity to sweat up the summer. My secret hope is that Fab Melo comes back lean and with a transplant of mean—hey a guy can wish, can’t he? [Discuss on CG Forums!]
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