Devereaux: Expectations for Celtics’ New Additions, Veteransby John Devereaux August 8, 2019 0 comments
This is the second installment of what I expect from the 2019-2020 Celtics team. This part will include new additions to the Celtics roster as well as the veterans of the teams. Expectations that I have are based on how I think they will do during the season, and what I hope to see from them throughout the year. The key additions to the Celtics this offseason have been all star point guard Kemba Walker and offensive talent Enes Kanter.
Walker, who averaged 25.6 points and 4.5 assists on the struggling Charlotte Hornets is a perfect fit for this years team. He is a great pick and roll talent, who can pass off to the pick setting players in either a roll or fade situation. Walker is an excellent offensive player scoring the ball and spreading the wealth.
His expectations are not to lead this team, his role is not to be the ‘guy’ on the roster but to be the main scorer for the team. Irving tried to be the guy on and off the court while being the star player, but everyone knows how that ended up. Walker is different than Irving both on and off the court. Walker is a leader but not a demanding player, and will be okay with taking a back seat to other players such as Smart or Tatum in the locker room.
With the Celtics system that Stevens created, I expect a rise in offensive proficiency from Walker. Although I do not feel that his scoring will totally improve, I can see Walker ceiling out at 28 points a game. Just like some players, I expect a slow start to the season from Walker. By the end of the season, Walker should be the main scorer of the team. Averages of 27 points along with seven assists on percentages of 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from the arc are the most understandable assignments I behold on Walker’s first year with this team.
Kanter had a very unusually basketball year last year. He went from being too good to play on a tanking Knicks team that were trying to focus on their youth, to being one of the focal points in the Trail Blazers early run in the playoffs. He averaged 13.7 and 10 rebounds last year playing for both teams.
He is a very strong offensive rebounder and a tremendous offensive post talent and his ability on the offensive end will easily replace Al Horford. Saying that seems outrageous right off the bat because Kanter will not be the leader and contributor that Horford was for the Celtics. But in Horford’s time as a Celtic, especially the final two years, the all-star forward averaged 13 points. Kanter can easily replace that number, and double Horford’s production on the boards.
I have no expectations for Kanter on defense, and I mean absolutely zero expectations. The team is completely full of talented defenders and the move to sign Kanter was not fill in for defensive reasons, but to expand the offense and complete the pick and roll tandem of Walker and Kanter. What I do expect from Kanter this year is to be a spark plug in the post offense. With him playing low, the other four players can spread the floor creating the perfect spacing for Brad Stevens rampant and complex offensive plays.
Kanter will probably only average 12-14 points a game, but will be the Celtic’s top rebounder. I expect double-digit rebounds from Kanter as half of them will come from the offensive end creating second chance opportunities, something the team has been missing for many years.
Veteran players such as Marcus Smart, Brad Wannamaker, Daniel Theis and Gordon Hayward all have unique roles to this year’s Celtic team.
Smart, who is entering his sixth NBA season has decided to be the vocal and physical leader of this Celtics squad. In an interview with ESPN on the show “The Jump”, Smart mentioned that the team did in fact deal with dysfunction in the locker room throughout the season. He later mentioned that he wants to help build a better locker room culture and the additions of Walker and Kanter were great for the team.
While he may not even start this year, Smart is going all in on the Celtics going forward, believing that many people and writers are already writing the team off for the year. With all this confidence and knowing that Smart is taking the leadership role even if his starting minutes could possibly turn into bench minutes I expect a lot of what we saw in 2018-2019 season from Smart. He produced averages of nine points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals last year for the Celtics. I believe that his scoring will not change much if he stays in the starting lineup, but if he moves to the bench I expect a few points higher for him.
Expectations are not high for Smart, as what most fans expect from the shooting guard is that Smart is to be the physical defensive rock and energy player. Smart will be the heart and sole of this teams enthusiasm and will be on the floor fighting for loose balls more often than scoring buckets. I foresee another all-defensive team for Smart this year, but I do see no growth in his offensive percentages such as field goal percentage and three point percentage. But that does not matter as long as Smart provides the glue and grit for the Celtics this year.
Hayward is an interesting player to look at. He had a comeback season last year after injuring his ankle severely in the first game of the 2017-2018 season and it wasn’t very pretty—averaging 11 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists on percentages of 46 percent from the field and an abysmal 33 percent from the arc. I would love to see the old Hayward back, especially if he came off the bench. Most fans are happy that Hayward is back and healthy, but they are not happy anymore about his contract.
Being paid 30 million a year and only averaging 11 points on mediocre shooting numbers, is not a good look for a former all-star who is still in his prime. I do see Hayward having a bounce back year, even though the team does not need another primary scorer, the team does need bench scoring.
This is where Hayward will receive his bag. I hope to see him be able to be a 15 point scorer for the year on shooting percentages close to 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. If the Celtics see a clog jam on offense like I do, and Hayward plays well enough to receive some trade offers, I would not be shocked if the team traded him halfway through the year. But until he is traded, I expect a stat line around the likes of 15 points, three assists and five rebounds off the bench.
Theis and Wannamaker are back for the Celtics. Both players to fill the final minutes available on the roster. I have no high expectations for these players, as their roles are not specialized.
Theis, I hope, will stay healthy and be an anchor that Baynes was last year, I would not be surprised if he ends up being a benchwarmer in the likes of Semi Ojeleye and Robert Williams.
Wannamaker might receive a solid amount of playing time with the departure of Terry Rozier and Kyrie Irving. Being a verteran player to fill in minutes against other bench lineups does not seem like the worst possible position for the young veteran.
I have no expectations for Theis and Wannamaker to average sufficient stats like the others that I have mentioned before them, but they are great bench players to have on roster.