How the Vegas Golden Knights can become similar to the Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are your 2024 NBA champions, vanquishing the Dallas Mavericks. How can the Vegas Golden Knights become similar to the new champions?
Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars - Game Seven
Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars - Game Seven / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics are your 2024 NBA champions. The legendary franchise defeated the Dallas Mavericks in five games, giving them their 18th title. Led by Finals MVP Jaylen Brown, they vanquished Dallas in the finale, 106-88, to take home the title. But the league has similarities to the NHL, where it stems beyond sharing the same setting.

No, it's a team sport, where you must have a strong unit to bring home the trophy. The Vegas Golden Knights know this from last season, winning the Stanley Cup behind their offensive depth. They defeated the Florida Panthers in the same length of games to take home their first title in franchise history. They weren't so lucky this year, being eliminated by the Dallas Stars in seven games.

However, that doesn't mean they can't duplicate Boston's success from this season. There are some things Kelly McCrimmon and company can do to build a similar model. In fact, there are some things Vegas has done to make them akin to the newest NBA champions.

Let's look at how the Vegas Golden Knights can mirror the Boston Celtics and bring home another Stanley Cup next season. What can Vegas do to improve themselves for next season? What have they done before that worked for the Golden Knights?

The Vegas Golden Knights need more expected goals

The Boston Celtics have heavily relied on analytics and playing smarter to win their 18th Larry O'Brien trophy. That meant shooting more three-point shots and steering away from shooting mid-range. That led to the Celtics making the most three-point shots per game in 2023-24 (16.5). Of course, operating in a smart matter is nothing new in Boston sports. That's how the Red Sox broke the "Curse of the Bambino," after all (thank you, Theo Epstein).

So what can be seen as the equivalent for the Vegas Golden Knights? Well, it's tough to pin down a singular stat to the three-pointer because goals only count for one point. However, let's look at expected goals, which carry a similar aspect to three-pointers in that they can lead to high-scoring affairs. The Golden Knights didn't have a singular person in the top ten this season.

However, both Stanley Cup contestants have a combined three players in the top ten in that category. Zach Hyman of the Edmonton Oilers led the NHL in that category this season with 52.5. As for the Florida Panthers, they had Sam Reinhart (third in the NHL with 44.3) and Matthew Tkachuk (eighth in the NHL with 38.9).

The best Golden Knight in this category? Jonathan Marchessault, who had 29.5 expected goals this season (34th in the NHL). Marchessault will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, which adds more urgency to re-sign him. It's about setting up better opportunities and scoping out defenses better. But there's more to getting back to being champions than simply getting more quality shots on goal.

The Boston Celtics have strong starter depth

The Boston Celtics have a strong starting five, led by none other than Jayson Tatum (26.9 PPG). He's not the only starter to average more than 20 PPG, though. Jaylen Brown (23 PPG) and Kristaps Porzingis (20.1 PPG) have also contributed to the offensive front. Of course, that's in part to the three-point barrage coming from Boston this season.

Last season, the Vegas Golden Knights had 12 different skaters score more than 10 goals. Their balance translated into the Stanley Cup playoffs, where they had their own "Big Three." Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Marchessault (13 goals, 12 assists), Jack Eichel (26 points), and Mark Stone (11 goals, 13 assists) created a three-headed monster during the playoffs, providing offense to carry them to their first title.

A good offseason consisting of re-signing a key player and adding more depth pieces will get Vegas into a similar position as Boston. Of course, that will also depend on other players such as Nic Roy and Paul Cotter stepping up. But if the Golden Knights meet their free agency objectives, they'll be shouting this as they hoist the Stanley Cup.