Boston Celtics – – NBA Champions Again

Congratulations to the Boston Celtics; they are the NBA Champions for the 18th time this morning having beaten the Dallas Mavericks 4-1 in the NBA Finals.  Jaylen Brown was named the Finals MVP; I would not have been upset if that award had gone to Jason Tatum because both men played excellently.  Just a year ago, coach Joe Mazzulla was seen as a dunderhead who stood in the way of the Celtics on-court talent.  Today he has a championship to his name.

I do think there is an unsung hero on the Celtics – – although “unsung” is clearly too strong a word here.  Jrue Holliday is not the star of the team; he is not the team MVP.  He is, however, a disruptive player on defense and a more-than-adequate distributor of the basketball on offense.  The Celtics may well have won the championship without Holiday, but he was a valuable asset for the season and in the playoffs.

On the other side, Luka Doncic showed me in this series that he is a force majeure on offense and only marginally better than a stiff on defense.  I do not know if he cannot play defense or if he will not play defense; that is something to learn from Doncic himself and/or Mavs’ coach Jason Kidd.  Whatever the case, the Mavs are trying to guard five opponents with only 4 defenders on just about every opponents’ possession.  That deficiency is compounded by the fact that the Mavs’ other star offensive player, Kyrie Irving, also tends to treat defense as a pause in the action while he waits to play offense again.  The fact that Doncic and Irving made it to the NBA Finals attests to how good they are at the offensive end of the court.

Moving on …  Yesterday I mentioned ten QBs in the NFL who will make an average annual salary of $45M or more starting this season.  I think the 2024 NFL season is going to provide some benchmark information about five of those enormous contracts and about the QBs themselves.  In alphabetical order:

  1. Joe Burrow was having a good season in 2024 when he broke his wrist in November and missed the rest of the season.  When he arrived in Cincy, the team was a mess; since he has been there, the Bengals have gone 29-22-1 when he starts.  That is a significant improvement but 29-22-1 is not the expectation for a QB, making more than $50M a year.  Just last weekend, the Bengals signed Tee Higgins for 2024 which means Burrow will have his two best WRs to catch his throws this season.
  2. Justin Herbert suffered a late-season hand injury that is surely healed by now.  The Chargers have a new head coach with a fine pedigree in the NFL and they took an OT with the 5th overall pick in the Draft in April to protect Herbert.  The Chargers let RB, Austin Eckler, go in free agency but they signed JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards to man the fort at the RB position.  I expect Herbert to have a; good season in 2024 as is to be expected.  Again, Herbert joined the Chargers at a low point in the franchise existence, but his record as a starter is a less-than-stellar 30-32-0.
  3. Jalen Hurts had a great year in 2022; and – – to be polite – – he regressed in 2023.  He was not the architect of the Eagles’ monumental collapse in the final third of the 2023 season, but the QB takes undeserved blame for such performance just as he gets undeserved praise for the opposite.  Hurts gets a new system and a new OC (Kellen Moore), and he will have Saquon Barkley at RB this year.  If he does not bounce back significantly, the Eagles may come to regret that huge deal they signed him to.
  4. Kyler Murray missed the first half or so of the 2023 season and it took a while for him to shake off the rust.  The addition of Marvin Harrison Jr. raises expectations for Murray’s performance in 2024.  I think the Cards will suffer buyer’s remorse if Murray does not have a breakout season this year.  Granted, the Cardinals’ team has not been nearly dominant since Murray arrived in 2019; but Murray’s record as a starter is only 28-36-1 and that is underperformance for someone making more than $45M annually.  Also, remember that when he was originally signed to his big extension, the Cards had a clause in the contract demanding that he work on Cardinals’ offensive issues for a certain number of hours a week at home.  We shall see …
  5. Deshaun Watson is probably in a make-or-break situation.  Yes, he missed a ton of time due to his suspension for off-field nonsense earlier in his career; and yes, he had a shoulder injury last year.  But if he is going to be considered anything more than a complete bust in Cleveland, he needs to have a really good year in 2024.  Can he do it is the question …

Finally, since much of today dealt with “high expectations” for some NFL QBs in 2024, I’ll close with these words from Ron Williams, the former CEO of Aetna Inc.:

“Every morning, I have high expectations, and then I confront the reality of what happens at 4 o’clock.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports ………



2 thoughts on “Boston Celtics – – NBA Champions Again”

  1. There are still a lot more (10?) NFL quarterbacks that you can discuss–all based on salary. And they all end with “We shall see….”

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