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2020-21 NBA SEASON PREVIEW: BOSTON CELTICS

@TheWillBaldwin

Predicted finish: 2nd in the East (1st in Atlantic, 5th in power rankings)

Last seasons conference finish: 3rd

Overview: 

After reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA Bubble, the Boston Celtics came into the 2020 offseason looking for the finishing pieces to get them to the finals. Sadly for C’s fans, the team heads into 2020-21 with more questions than answers. Is Gordon Hayward a major loss? Can Kemba stay healthy? Is Tristan Thompson enough help in the front-court? As important as these questions are, the team still returns young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and defensive stalwart Marcus Smart. As long as Tatum and Brown continue to improve, this team will remain as good as any. Still though, I don’t think they’ve got the missing pieces to a championship team this offseason and that has to hurt Celtics fans. 

The big question for the franchise: Is Kemba Walker the answer at point guard? 

As crazy as this may sound for a guard coming off an All-Star season, Kemba Walker’s health is a problem in Boston. He ended the regular season pre-Covid and again in the bubble injured with a knee injury and once again will start this season out with a seemingly similar issue. Walker’s great when he’s healthy but when that’ll be and if it’ll be enough for this team is unquestionably the Celtic’s biggest questionmark heading into 2020-21. 

One move I want to see them make: Improve guard depth 

Walker’s injury history coupled with suspect depth behind him makes me think Danny Ainge needs to find a way to upgrade this part of the roster. Jeff Teague and Payton Pritchard are in a spot you’d probably want more help ideally in at the best of times so, if Walker’s knee is a real issue going forward, this already debatable spot of the roster becomes that much more in doubt. 

Offseason Grade: B

Losing Hayward hurts for sure however, the additions of Thompson, Teague and Aaron Nesmith are upgrades over what they had before. It wasn’t the perfect offseason by any stretch. I can’t be mad about it though when the only guy they lost hardly contributed in the playoffs and, they improved three-spots I wanted them to coming into the offseason. 

Young player I’m excited for: Aaron Nesmith 

Nesmith may just be the best shooter in the draft. If he can give the Celtics 15-20 minutes a night off the bench, that’d be a big boost to their depth and rotation in a spot that felt like a huge hole in 2020. 

Final Thoughts:

Boston is better than they’re getting credit for when healthy. Tatum is an underdog MVP candidate, Brown should be an All-Star and the rest of the team around them is really good. I really like the upgrade they made with Thompson and I think the Hayward loss is being overblown. That said, they still feel worse than Miami and Milwaukee and that’s even if Walker is healthy. If not, the Celtics will have a huge problem.

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