Key Additions: Kemba Walker, Enes Kanter, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Carsen Edwards
Key Departures: Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Morris, Aaron Baynes, Terry Rozier
The Celtics 2018-19 season was a disaster. A finals favorite and a Kyrie Irving promise at the beginning of the year which ended with a second round exit via the Milwaukee Bucks while Kyrie Irving and Al Horford leaving. The C’s were dysfunctional, and was not a typical Brad Stevens’ team with effort and ball movement every night. Now the Celtics seem to be back to the system over the talent, however can they compete for banner 18?
The 2019-20 Celtics will be led by new starting point guard Kemba Walker who is coming off a career-year in which he averaged 25.6 points, 5.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. The C’s will also be hoping for big leaps from multiple players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown while looking for a resurgence from Gordon Hayward. The C’s also have three rookies who will try to make an impact this season. Romeo Langford (pick 14), Grant Williams (pick 22) and Carsen Edwards (pick 33) each will get a chance to show their potential and hopefully one or more shows they can a solid piece on a contending team. The players of this team are good enough to compete at the top of the Eastern Conference, but questions still remain.
The biggest question surrounding the Celtics is who will play Center? Enes Kanter, Robert Williams 111 and Daniel Theis all have been competing for the job and the early indication is Theis will get the first chance as the starter. Theis is nothing special only averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 rebounds a game last year. Theis has the strength of being able to hit the three ball, which is a need in a Brad Stevens system which keeps him at starter for now. In a perfect world Robert Williams 111 would be the eventual starter for this team bringing energy on the defensive end, but his offensive game is not ready for the Celtics system just yet. Enes Kanter is a great depth big, but his interior defense keeps him from becoming a starter-level big for this team.
The other question comes on the defensive side of the ball. Last season the Celtics were the sixth ranked defensive team in the league. However the losses of Al Horford and Aaron Bayes the two highest rated defensive player on the team as well as Terry Rozier 111 and Marcus Morris Sr. will impact the defense of this team tremendously. Marcus Smart remains the defensive leader of this team, and although he is one of the best defensive players in the league he can’t guard everybody. Who on this team will guard Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo and who will consistently show effort defensively?
Overall the Celtics can be the sneaky third team in the Eastern Conference that has the possibility to end up in the finals, but the team needs to get back to playing together and trusting the system of Brad Stevens. If they do then this team can be better than the Isaiah Thomas Celtics teams as well as the Celtics team that took LeBron James to game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals two years ago. If they don’t the team will be a replica of last year’s team and Celtics fans will not be able to look at Kyrie Irving as the problem. The talent is good enough to make the playoffs in the East and if Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown show make an all-star jump the Celtics can compete for a chance in the finals.