With the 2019-20 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we'll dedicate one day to each team in the league.
Today, we're looking at the Boston Celtics.
2018-19 season record
49-33 (4th in the Eastern Conference)
Projected 2019-20 season record
49-33 (3rd in the Eastern Conference)
Carsen Edwards (draft)
Tacko Fall (rookie - free agency)
Enes Kanter (free agency)
Romeo Langford (draft)
Vincent Poirier (free agency)
Kemba Walker (trade)
Grant Williams (draft)
Aron Baynes (trade)
Al Horford (free agency)
Kyrie Irving (free agency)
Marcus Morris (free agency)
Terry Rozier (trade)
|PG||Kemba Walker||Carsen Edwards||Brad Wanamaker|
|SG||Marcus Smart||Jaylen Brown||Romeo Langford|
|SF||Jayson Tatum||Semi Ojeleye||Grant Williams|
|PF||Gordon Hayward||Daniel Theis||Vincent Porier|
|C||Enes Kanter||Robert Williams||Tacko Fall|
3 key storylines
Kemba Walker's time
After spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker gets a change of scenery in Boston.
Walker is coming off of his best season in the NBA, averaging a career-high 25.6 points to go with 5.9 assists per game en route to his first All-NBA nod. With Kyrie Irving gone, Walker will take the keys to the Celtics offence and playing alongside guys like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward, he'll be teaming up with the best players he's played with in his career.
Walker had plenty of time to get accustomed to his new teammates during his time with Team USA this summer and that chemistry will easily carry over to training camp, preseason and the regular season, smoothing the transition to his new squad.
MORE: How Brad Stevens can get the most out of Kemba Walker
The three-time All-Star has only made the playoffs twice for a total of 11 playoff games. Reaching the playoffs is the standard in Boston and with the talent this roster possesses, Walker should have no issue leading this team to the postseason. Though the younger players on the roster already have more playoff experience than the eight-year veteran, Walker will be one of the vocal leaders of this Celtics team and have his hand in rebuilding the culture that was slightly tarnished by locker room turmoil last season.
Kemba joined Boston to compete for a championship and he will have more than a decent opportunity to do so in his first season rocking Kelly Green.
Gordon Hayward's resurgence
It was a rollercoaster of a year in Hayward's first season coming off of his devastating leg injury.
The former All-Star forward who had averaged 21.9 points per game in his final season in Utah struggled to maintain double figures in his first full season since then, finishing with 11.5 points per game. Both his field goal and 3-point percentage were down and - as you would expect after a severe injury - he looked a step slower than usual on both ends of the floor.
Optimistically, as the season went on Hayward began to look more and more like his old self. Down the home stretch he seemed to finally gain confidence in his movement again and he started seeing more shots fall. After the All-Star break, Hayward averaged 12.2 points per game shooting 55.1% from the field, though his 3-point percentage remained lower than he's used to.
He hit his stride in the first round of the playoffs reaching double figures in scoring in three of the Celtics' four-win sweep of the Indiana Pacers, but looked as though the long season had gotten to him in the Conference Semifinals versus the Milwaukee Bucks.
Hayward will continue to be a key point of Boston's offensive gameplan and his play could be the difference between another second round exit or a push to the Conference Finals and beyond. If Hayward could get back to 75% of the player the Celtics are paying him to be, Boston will be a tough out for any team its matched up against.
The biggest question for the Celtics heading into the 2019-20 season is without a doubt their depth at the centre position.
Veteran big man, leader and defensive anchor Al Horford signed with Boston's rivals - the Philadelphia 76ers. On draft night, the Celtics traded backup centre and rim protector Aron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns for a 2020 first-round pick. These two bigs played almost all the minutes at the five for Boston last season, leaving behind a massive vacancy to be filled.
The Celtics went out and signed Enes Kanter in free agency, who will likely become the team's starting centre. As a more offensive-minded big man, Kanter will have to take a huge step forward on the defensive end to even attempt to replace the production of the two centres that came before him. Where Kanter is a huge upgrade for Boston is on the glass - he is one of the best offensive rebounders, and rebounders in general, in the NBA.
Second-year centre Robert Williams will also be expected to take a huge jump in both role and playing time this season. He's much more suited to be the defensive anchor and rim protector the Celtics need, but only played 8.8 minutes per game last season and lacks the experience to take on the full-time starting centre role. He showed a ton of upside potential in the minutes he did play last season, as head coach Brad Stevens often went to the athletic rookie centre to spark a fire on the defensive end and on the boards.
MORE: Robert Williams is one of the biggest X-factors in the East
As he has in the past two seasons, Daniel Theis will likely also see playing time at centre, with rookie 7-foot-7 big man Tacko Fall potentially receiving some minutes here and there if he makes the final roster.
5 games to watch
Oct. 23 at Philadelphia 76ers
One of the best rivalries in the NBA gets even better with former Celtics' leader Al Horford switching sides to the 76ers. This is opening night for two teams that already have no love-loss for each other. The Celtics have gotten the best of the 76ers over the past few seasons, but Philly is loaded up for a title push this season.
Oct. 30 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks only needed five games to eliminate the Celtics from the playoffs last season, getting their revenge for Boston knocking them out of the playoffs in seven games the year before. Milwaukee is expected to be the top team in the conference again this season, so there's no better test to see what this new Boston team is made of early in the season.
Nov. 7 at Charlotte Hornets
This is Kemba Walker's first game back in Charlotte after spending his first eight seasons in the NBA with the franchise. It will be an emotional one for Walker, and also acts as a Terry Rozier revenge game against his former team.
Nov. 27 vs. Brooklyn Nets
Celtics fans have had this one circled on the calendar the second that the NBA schedule dropped. This will be Kyrie Irving's first game back in Boston since leaving to sign with the Nets, and it's hard to imagine anything but a hostile environment at the TD Garden.
Dec. 25 at Toronto Raptors
It's always a battle between the Celtics and the Raptors and with Toronto playing on Christmas Day for the first time since 2001, you know Scotiabank Arena will be rocking. The Celtics have lost eight consecutive games in Toronto and will look to snap that streak on the biggest stage of the regular season.
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