In the 2021-22 NBA hierarchy, where should we rank the Boston Celtics?

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By now, most fans of the Boston Celtics and analysts agree that the team is not quite ready to contend for a title, and may not even be ready to get quite as far in the postseason as it had while All-Star forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were still in their first few seasons in the league.

But where are the Celtics with respect to the rest of the NBA for the 2021-22 season, and what should our expectations of what qualifies as a “good” season for this retooling franchise already strapped with a pair of stars and a stronger bench under first-year head coach Ime Udoka?

Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil recently wrote an article dividing the NBA into tiers based on where in their respective competitive lifecycle each team was at, and views Boston as among teams which have arrived at their “time to bounce back.”

"The Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Miami Heat each had roller-coaster seasons last year," writes Dakhil. Lumping Boston in with two other teams who had made deep runs into the Disney bubble postseason along with one other perennial contender who stumbled under the weight of injury last season is a fair assessment given the parallels. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1441764513724841993?s=20

"The Celtics are a team that had an up-and-down season," added the B/R analyst. "Jayson Tatum caught COVID-19 and struggled with his wind once he returned. Kemba Walker was in and out of the lineup. Jaylen Brown finished the year with torn ligaments in his wrist." https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1441809765148110850?s=20

"All of that led to Boston making the playoffs through the play-in tournament and losing to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round," observed Dakhil.

"All told, the Celtics just never looked like the conference finalist they were in 2019-20. Changes were made, beginning with Danny Ainge stepping down and Brad Stevens moving to the front office, resulting in Ime Udoka filling Stevens' spot on the sideline. The biggest move on the court was bringing back Al Horford and sending out Walker."

"The talent is there for Boston. Making the playoffs without the help of the play-in tournament would put the Celtics back on an upward trajectory." https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1441820305958244353?s=20

This seems like an especially low bar for Boston to meet this season even considering the steps forward many an East peer have taken this offseason. A top-six finish should indeed be the floor of expectations, with a push for home court or better not an unreasonable expectation if the team at the end of the season largely looks the same and no major setbacks occur. This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [lawrence-related id=60182,60175,60089,60025] [listicle id=60177]

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