Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he's encouraged by what he's seen from his team over the first 20 games of the 2013-14 season, but downplayed the significance of being in first place in the Atlantic Division at the moment.
Making his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio 98.5 the Sports Hub, Ainge stressed that he'll judge this season by the development of his players much more than wins and losses.
"It’s more on the development of guys like [Jared] Sullinger, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford, and Phil Pressey," said Ainge. " We’re really looking to develop a lot of young guys. We know pretty much what Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries -- the veteran guys -- we pretty much know who those guys are, they’ve been in the league a long time. But we need our young guys be a little bit more consistent."
Ainge was asked about the strong play of Sullinger (a team-best plus-51 in plus/minus and no one else is even close), but spread the praise around.
"We're really excited about Jared and what he’s becoming, and we’ve always known that he’s had the talent, but I don’t know if I would just give MVP to Jared," said Ainge. "I think plus/minus is very deceiving, especially early in the year. I think there’s a lot of guys, I mean Jordan Crawford has played terrific, Avery Bradley has had some amazing games, and I think that Jeff Green has played very consistent. ... I think that there’s a lot of guys that are playing really well. It seems like there’s a different MVP every night."
Asked about sitting atop the Atlantic Division with an 8-12 record, Ainge quipped, "Yeah, how about that?" But pressed on whether it meant anything to him, Ainge downplayed the significance.
"I just feel like there’s a lot of teams that have had injuries, or just haven’t been able to play well as they are capable of playing," he said. "I think we’re one of those teams, I don’t think we’ve played as well as we can. We just have to get more consistent. But I like a lot of things I see with our team, and with individual players -- I think everybody is playing well at times, we just need to be more consistent and play more together."
Ainge also talked about the Knicks' struggles, the reassigning of former Boston assistant Lawrence Frank in Brooklyn, and gave the latest on Rajon Rondo's recovery. Hop HERE to listen to the full interview.