Just two months from the end of the season, the Celtics are sitting in the Auerbach training facility. Getting up shots, going over plays and coverages, and getting to know new teammates that were drafted or signed just a couple of weeks ago. It is officially the best time of the year. The start of the new NBA season. With a new season comes a new Celtics preview.
The New Guys
Tristan Thompson is going to miss the majority of training camp and that absence is going to leak into the beginning of the season. Thompson is dealing with a slight hamstring strain. This throws a small wrench into the mix. Thompson needs some time to get into the rhythm of the Celtics scheme and the longer he’s out the longer it will take. He will get to see it in action up close which will help to an extent. Daniel Theis might have to shoulder a lot of the center load and look for Timelord to pick up some minutes too.
Brad Stevens confirms Tristan Thompson is still out from practice due to a hamstring strain he suffered during recent workouts, so he is doing light strength and conditioning work for now. Hopes to have Thompson ramped up in time for start of regular season in 3 weeks.— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) December 5, 2020
Jeff Teague could be looking at an increased role in the lineup at the start of the season. Kemba Walker is going to be out until January at least. Walker received a stem cell injection in his knee and will be re-evaluated in the first week of January. With Kemba’s absence. look for a lot of the scoring load to be carried by Jayson and Jaylen.
Rookies Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith are going to be entering the season without having a summer league. With the lack of depth at the wing and now the point, for the time being, these rookies could have some more pressure to contribute consistently compared to rookie classes of the past. Payton has expressed his willingness to step up if he is called upon. Aaron Nesmith could also jump into the starting lineup at some point this season. Grant Williams said in his media availability that the rookies have been “working their butts off” and he said that he “loves their games. They fit in with our culture.” I think it’s safe to say that the rookies are turning heads with what little time they’ve had.
Payton Pritchard is exuding the “next man up” mentality as he looks to make his mark with the Celtics. 👊 pic.twitter.com/fopqHNm3j5— Celtics Nation (@CelticsNationCP) December 5, 2020
Sophomores Stepping Up
Second-year players are usually looked at to see how they will improve in comparison to their rookie year. Similar to the rookies, Sophomore players didn’t get the opportunity to get another summer league under their belt. Players like Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards will be expected to contribute consistently. Williams told reporters he’s willing to play at whatever position Stevens asks him to. He also mentioned that he added range to his shot and is continuing to work on getting quicker to be a better perimeter defender. Additionally, keep your eyes on Tremont Waters who could land a spot in Boston this season. Yes, I know Robert Williams isn’t a “sophomore” but he fits the mold because he spent so much time on the bench. If Ben Simmons can win Rookie of the year, a year after he was drafted, I can call Timelord a Sophomore.
This season I’m expecting a few players to take some leaps in their games. I’m looking for Grant and Robert Williams to step up and crack the rotation. I’m expecting Grant’s leap to be bigger. However, I also expect Robert to get slightly more playing time because of the absence of Tristan Thompson. Robert Williams spent a lot of last season on the bench with a hip injury. I also expect Aaron Nesmith to impress a lot of people this season. His limited season last year in college was unfortunately cut short due to a foot injury. Nesmith could find himself in the catch and shoot role sitting in the corner waiting to make his defender wish he hadn’t left him there.
We are now entering the part where Jaylen and Jayson are the faces of this team. I’m expecting both of them to take leaps this year. And I would not be surprised if Tatum was in the conversation for MVP. Also, you heard it here first, Jaylen will be an all-star this year. He was snubbed last season and I don’t think that he liked that very much. Both Tatum and Brown complement each other’s game. I think Theis will start the season as the starting center. I also think that after a while Thompson could overtake him. It really could go either way it just depends on who Brad wants out there.
End Of Season Predictions
The Celtics will be in the top three of the eastern conference. Tatum will improve his All-NBA ranking to at least the second team, although I’m pulling for the first team. Marcus Smart will make another All-Defensive team. The war on Theis will unfortunately continue because the referees do not want him to be great. The Celtics will meet the Nets in the playoffs at some point and edge them out in a seven-game series. The floor for this team is the second round. I think that Thompson and Teague can help get the Celtics over the hump and into the finals.
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