Previewing the 2019/20 Celtics Season

Grant Kull, Sports Editor

The 2018/19 Boston Celtics were supposed to be the team to come out of the Eastern Conference last year. They turned out to be a burning pile of toxic waste.  From inconsistent play for the young guys and veterans, to a toxic locker room, and spotty coaching from Brad Stevens, the 18/19 season was just an all-around miserable time to be alive.  Although last season was a disappointment and expectations aren’t particularly high for this season’s team, there’s still some hope this time around.

First of all, this team probably shouldn’t have very high expectations mainly because the team got noticeably worse in the offseason.  Boston’s two best players, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, left in free agency. Irving’s eventual departure to the Brooklyn Nets was expected for the majority of the season so that didn’t much change Boston’s plan for the next season.  Horford, on the other hand, was the team leader in the locker room and arguably their most valuable player, so when he left to the Celtics fiercest current rival, The Philadelphia 76ers, it surprised most fans and really cast a shadow onto this year’s team.  

Even with the previously mentioned “set-backs” this season isn’t a complete waste of time to watch. This team doesn’t have the ceiling or the skill of the previous years, but at least this year has a group of players that don’t hate each other. There are three main reasons for this change in the environment: the new guys, the departure of Kyrie Irving, and the rise of Mahcus Smaht as the new emotional leader of the team.  

In 2019, the Celtics drafted Romeo Langford out of Indiana, Grant Williams from Tennessee, and Carson Edwards from Purdue. All three of these guys are really good basketball players and, maybe more importantly, fun people to be around.  Grant Williams, in particular, has an energy about him that makes me feel like he’s going to be part of this team’s future. Other than the weird astrological properties of Williams he’s also a really good rookie. He’s always in the right spot, doing the right things on the offensive end, and on the defensive end he can guard a 7’1’’ center and a 6’ point guard on the same possession.  William’s amazing versatility is a really good description of the entire team. The majority of the players on the roster have a set position and everyone can guard multiple positions with two major exceptions, Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker. Kanter is on the team for one reason: his rebounding. The Celtics, in recent memory, have struggled with rebounding so moving Kanter from center would neutralize his skill-set. The other exception is Kemba Walker. Walker was signed in the offseason to be the replacement for Irving. The reason he can’t guard multiple positions is because he can’t even guard one. The reason for this, and I cannot stress this enough, he’s the size of a freshman in high school, perhaps even an eighth grader. When Walker is on the court he’s noticeably smaller than everyone else. I realize Walker’s size doesn’t and shouldn’t concern the Celtics.  Kemba’s size doesn’t affect what makes him special, which is his offense; he’s one of the league’s most offensively talented guards.

Another reason that the Celtics are watchable this year is their two major young guys: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.  Jayson Tatum is the most talented player on this Celtics team. Tatum can score from anywhere he wants and his 6’9’’ frame makes him a versatile defender.  Although Tatum is wildly talented, he had a disappointing sophomore showing when compared to his performance in the 2017/18 playoffs. Simply put, this is a make or break season for Tatum.  Jaylen Brown is probably the team’s best defender and a severely underrated offensive tool. Brown’s 18/19 season was plagued with injuries which resulted in inconsistent offense from him.  

This Celtics team doesn’t have the title hopes that last year’s did, but it will be competitive in the regular season and it’ll be fun to see how the young guys perform this year.  All and all this team will be a fun watch with low postseason hopes…but you never know.