On the surface, the Boston Celtics are in a good place.
They have the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-rounder, and one of the best basketball players on the planet in their two-time All-Star point guard.
Who cares they’re about to face swift elimination at the hands of LeBron James? Short of the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors, no team in the Association seems to be in a better spot moving forward than the Celtics.
Just as every dark cloud has a silver lining, though, nothing good in this world is pure. The Celtics, for all their forward momentum, have an Isaiah Thomas problem.
It would be a step too far to say the Celtics can’t win a title with Isaiah Thomas as their starting point guard, or even their best player.
Unorthodox rosters have won championships before, most recently with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 — the same Mavericks team that beat LeBron James.
So yes, you can win a ring with Thomas as your star, but you have to be perfect.
Your roster has to cover up all his glaring postseason flaws, most notably his struggles defending bigger point guards and opponents’ tendency to attack him over and over.
You need a second guard to defend both backcourt positions, a center who destroys opponent pick-and-rolls and sets bone-breaking screens, shooters to space the floor, and a team defensive scheme that figures out a way to slow James and the Cavaliers.
And you have to execute your game plan to perfection on every time down the court, with no lulls. Mix in a dash of luck, and you’ve got a champion on your hands — maybe.
But nothing goes perfectly in the NBA — not for the superteams, and not for those clamoring to join them in the championship hunt.
True title contenders need a little bit of wiggle room. That’s why the Cavaliers have a thousand redundant wings, and in part why the Warriors added Kevin Durant to their stacked roster, just…