The Boston Celtics come off their 22nd Finals appearance looking to avenge their defeat in six games to Golden State. After having a firm grip on the series up 2-1, the Celtics would go on to lose the series when they could not generate enough offense to overcome Stephen Curry and the Warriors.
In acquiring Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari, the Celtics have increased their firepower and hopefully taken some of the scoring burden off Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are expected to take another step toward becoming one of the best duos in the NBA. Their supporting cast will need to figure out how to help them get over the hump by being more consistent.
STARTER: Marcus Smart
DEPTH: Malcolm Brogdon, JD Davison
Marcus Smart, the heart and soul of the Celtics, won the Defensive Player of the Year award and managed to play 71 games for Boston last season. He has mostly been durable, playing in 81.7 percent of the possible games in his career. His new teammate, Malcolm Brogdon, though, is notorious for missing games having played just 70.4 percent of his schedule. Brogdon’s entrance into the rotation will give the Celtics another ball handler and should lessen the pressure for wings like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
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STARTER: Jaylen Brown
DEPTH: Payton Pritchard
Jaylen Brown, who will look to get his second All-Star selection after missing out last season, could really improve on protecting the ball. He averaged about 2.7 turnovers per game the last two seasons, but that number climbed to 3.1 during Boston’s 2022 Finals run.
After a sophomore slump, Payton Pritchard needs to show improvement in his third season in the NBA coming off the bench.
The inclusion of Brogdon should give the Celtics flexibility to play Smart/Brogdon/Brown or Brogdon/Brown/Derrick White lineups.
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STARTER: Jayson Tatum
DEPTH: Derrick White, Sam Hauser
At age 24, Jayson Tatum is the cornerstone of the franchise, and after another superb season, could be in the mix for MVP next year. Other teams in the East will be gunning for Boston, but Tatum should take his game to another level, especially after gaining valuable Finals experience. Derrick White will be there to spell minutes for Tatum, but the Celtics’ backcourt and small forward positions are interchangeable, so we could be seeing Brown at small forward at times, along with either Danilo Gallinari or White. The Celtics recently gave Sam Hauser a three-year deal, and he is hoping to develop into a more consistent three-ball shooter.
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STARTER: Al Horford
DEPTH: Danilo Gallinari
While no longer the All-Star caliber player that he once was, Al Horford can still hold his own defensively, and is one of the smarter big men in the NBA these days. Tatum is expected to slide over to the power forward spot as lineups go small, but don’t be surprised to see a healthy dose of Danilo Gallinari, as he should give the Celtics another weapon to space the floor.
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STARTER: Robert Williams
DEPTH: Grant Williams, Luke Kornet
Robert Williams came into his own last season, but once again dealt with injury problems. Anyway, he made his first All-Defensive Team and was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. Given his track record health-wise, the Celtics will be smart to monitor Williams to make sure he’s available for the playoffs. Grant Williams proved he can provide meaningful minutes at the five if Robert gets hurt.