"The notion that playing in the postseason can be a valuable experience is nothing new. But now, much to Charles Barkley's dismay, I have done a little study (full version can be found here) and backed up this idea with numbers. After controlling for a variety of things, I found a statistically significant increase in a young player’s progression after making the postseason in a season. Put plainly, this means that after making the playoffs, players will progress at a rate quicker than otherwise. This is important for the Celtics seeing as how they both made the playoffs and have a lot of young players."
Some will always believe Boston's "decision" to make the playoffs had an arbitrary impact on its roster of young talent. But this study deserves a close look. We'll never know what would've happened if they landed in the lottery for a second straight season, but it's a sad time when winning gets frowned upon.