As we sit about a month away from Celtics training camp, there are some things to look out for before the team hits the court at the Auerbach Center. There are many people, for whatever reason who are judging the C’s based on Team USA’s performance in the basketball World Cup, which a 3rd of the team was made up of Celtics players. World Cup aside, a lot has happened regarding Boston’s basketball team and there are some noteworthy items to watch over the next few weeks.
“Cardiac Kemba’s” impact in year number one: The Celtics let Kyrie Irving walk in free agency (Hallelujah!) and signed Kemba Walker to a 4 year/$141 million max deal. Many think this is going to be a plug and play situation with the new point guard, but something to watch is how he syncs with his teammates. Luckily, he’s played a handful of games in the basketball world cup with his teammates, but opening the season against Philadelphia and Milwaukee shortly after could put Kemba in relatively high leverage situations. In Charlotte, if Kemba makes an error it’s better luck next time. In Boston, they want to trade you. I think Walker will do just fine in a green uniform, but Celtics fans may have to prepare themselves for a bumpy start.
Center of attention: A move that Celtics fans may have missed during the offseason was the trade of Aron Baynes. To replace the big man, the C’s signed Enes Kanter in free agency and could have Tacko Fall at the end of the bench. Back to Kanter, although he won the 24/7 title at Madison Square Garden on Monday Night Raw, the Celtics are hoping for another championship at the end of the season. Nearly averaging a double-double last season with the Knicks and Trailblazers, scoring is his game. Stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo or Joel Embiid on defense may need to be better planned. Kanter is supposed to replace Al Horford on the court as a 5 and he could score better as a 5 than where Horford was at the 4.
This could open the door for Robert Williams III to have a bigger impact on the floor. Williams mostly played in mop-up roles but did start a couple of games and even got a block on Anthony Davis. If Williams makes the most of his playing time, the Celtics second unit on the floor will be able to give the starters a real break which didn’t happen last year.
What can brown do for you? This may be a bad pun, but it is a good question for Jaylen Brown who is set to enter his final year of his contract. The C’s have had little to no contact with Brown regarding his contract status, but for a player of his athletic status, teams would be crazy not to try a trade offer if the Celtics can’t seal up the talents of number 7 before the start of the season. Jaylen got better as the season went on and his role became more clear. Averaging 13 points/game in the regular season and just under 14 for the playoffs, Brown should be the starter with Horford and Baynes gone and Gordon Hayward can move to the 4. As has been his game throughout his career, if Jaylen Brown can hit threes the Celtics are capable of putting up Golden State offense.
Wide Open: With Klay Thompson out for the season and Kevin Durant out of Golden State and out for the year, there are no real favorites in the NBA. Oddsshark currently has Clippers and Lakers as favorites to win the NBA championship and the Celtics in 8th. The C’s got essentially swept out of the playoffs by the Bucks, but by that point Boston didn’t really want to play anymore because of Uncle Drew killing the green vibe. With the change at point guard, the Celtics maybe more likable but will the be more successful? Time shall tell….