Mostly agree with your rankings; with the optimism bias from being a cardinals fan personally, I'd argue you could make a 1 star increase at each position, but their current rankings are also fair. I very much disagree with the 1 star ranking at special teams however, as we have a pro bowl gunner in Justin Bethel being joined by some high upside athletes in the kick coverage team and kick return game. Probably the best coverage unit in the game, which coupled with a punter who is below average (don't think he's as bad as stats show- his hangtime is rediculous, and it seems the staff went with him for this reason. I'd choose a distance leg with our coverage team, butI digress). In short, I'd say 3 stars is fair. A perfectly average special teams unit, whose only limitation really seems to be Drew Butler's distance and the uncertainty of a new long snapper (but both seem pretty reliable this far)
Off-Season Grade: B
The old got older. Boston brought back their top two scorers by reaching long-term extensions with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen who were both unrestricted free agents but never really intended on leaving Beantown.
Already one of the more veteran teams in the NBA, the Celtics major offseason acquisitions were adding size by using their mid-level exception on 32-year-old Jermaine O'Neal and then signing the 38-year-old Shaq. The O'Neals are well past their prime, but only inked 2-year deals. They will help fill the void left behind by Rasheed Wallace, who chose to retire this summer.
Boston filled the rest of the spots on their roster by adding guard depth with Delonte West, Von Wafer, and re-signing Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels. For a team that did not have much cap flexibility, that is a fairly productive offseason.
It is all about staying healthy and keeping the legs fresh for the postseason. Boston proved last spring that if they are at 100 percent entering the playoffs, they are capable of knocking off anybody and making another run at the NBA title.
The most marketable players on the roster are still the Boston Three Party of Allen, Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but this has truly become Rajon Rando's team. He has developed into one of the top playmaking point guards in the league. Expect him to have a huge chip on his shoulder after being left off Team USA for this summer's FIBA World Championships.
Allen, Pierce and Garnett will still play important roles. Allen can still shoot it with the best of them, and is a more than capable defender despite being 35 years old. Pierce knows how to score in a variety of ways though he seems to be heading toward the downward slope of his career. Garnett is one of the most intimidating post players in the league, but injuries and durability are really starting to wear down his Hall of Fame career.
Starting center Kendrick Perkins will be sidelined until at least February as he still recovers from a torn ACL suffered in the playoffs. The O'Neals and Glen Davis will fill the void until Perkins is healthy.
If Rando, Allen, or Pierce gets sidelined for an extended period of time, that would be a concern since there is a lack of depth in the backcourt. However, Boston always seems to add a veteran or two late in the season to add more depth.
Whether or not the experienced Celtics can hang with the Heat in the Eastern Conference will depend solely on their health. Boston is postseason battled tested and knows what it takes to get the job done as a team.
Looking Ahead to the Summer of 2011:
The 2011 offseason will revolve around unrestricted free agents Perkins and Davis. Both players are important pieces to what the Celtics are all about inside and bring youth that is needed for the future. I would expect Boston to try and reach extensions with the two before they hit the open market. However, both players would be wise to flirt with free agency and see if they can cash in on a major payday that might also present them with more playing time.