Celtics Roster Reset: Updated look at Boston's players after 2020 NBA Draft

Nick Goss
·6 min read

Celtics Roster Reset: Updated look at C's players after 2020 NBA Draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2020-21 NBA season is about a month away from starting, and the Boston Celtics are in a good position roster-wise as training camp nears.

The Celtics were two wins from the NBA Finals last season and they don't need to make major roster changes to be in that position again. 

Jayson Tatum's ascension to superstardom, Jaylen Brown becoming an All-Star caliber player and Kemba Walker fitting in seamlessly as a scorer and leader were among the many positives for Boston in 2019-20.

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The upcoming campaign will pose a few challenges from a roster building perspective, though. Several players have an uncertain future with the franchise, including Gordon Hayward, Brad Wanamaker and Enes Kanter, all of whom can or will become free agents on Friday. 

The Celtics don't have a ton of financial flexibility given their salary structure, but there are a few moves that could be made to improve the roster.

The salary cap for the upcoming season will be set at $109.14 million. 

Here's a look at where the C's roster stands after the 2020 NBA Draft and before the start of free agency on Friday (All salary information via Basketball Insiders).

Let's begin with the rookies.

2020 NBA Draft picks

Player

Pick

Position

Age

Aaron Nesmith

No. 14 (First round)

SF

21

Payton Pritchard

No. 26 (First round)

PG/SG

22

Yam Madar

No. 47 (Second round)

PG

19

Nesmith was the best shooter in the 2020 class and hit an impressive 52.2 percent of his 3-point attempts for Vanderbilt last season. Pritchard also shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc and won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. Madar is a long-term project who has displayed impressive playmaking skills for Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Israeli League.

Nesmith's excellent outside shooting makes him the best bet of the three rookies to play a meaningful role in the Celtics rotation next season.

Danny Ainge excited for Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard to join Celtics

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Guards

Player

Position

Age

2020-21 Cap Hit

Kemba Walker

PG

30

$34,379,100

Carsen Edwards

PG

22

$1,517,981

Jaylen Brown

SG

23

$23,883,929

Marcus Smart

SG

26

13,446,428

Javonte Green*

SG

27

$1,517,981

*Denotes non-guaranteed salary

Jaylen Brown's rookie extension is about to begin, and after setting career highs in points, rebounds and assists last season, his contract could soon become one of the most team-friendly deals.

Walker played well in his first year with the Celtics and made another All-Star appearance, but he also was hampered at times by a knee injury. Smart was selected to the All-Defensive first team for the second consecutive season and scored 12.9 points per game. He is signed through the 2021-22 campaign.

Edwards didn't make much of an impact as a rookie but still shows promise as a guard who could provide bench scoring. Green is a tremendous athlete and one of the league's best dunkers.

Forwards

Player

Position

Age

2020-21 Cap Hit

Jayson Tatum

SF

22

$9,897,120

Romeo Langford

SF

20

$3,631,200

Grant Williams

SF/PF

21

$2,498,760

Tatum is eligible to sign a rookie extension but it wouldn't go into effect until the 2021-22 campaign. He took a tremendous leap last season by making his first All-Star appearance and leading the team in scoring at 23.4 points per game. Tatum could be a top 10 to 15 player as soon as this coming season.

Updated NBA Power Rankings after 2020 draft

Langford wasn't able to make much of an impact as a rookie because of injuries, but he did show potential as a perimeter defender. If healthy, he projects to be a quality outside shooter, too. 

Williams' defense, rebounding and high basketball IQ allowed him to play a fairly important role as a rookie, even in the playoffs. If Williams can keep improving his 3-point shot -- he converted on 58.5 percent of these attempts in the 2020 playoffs -- the 2019 first-round pick could be a pretty valuable player for Boston next season given the team's less-than-ideal frontcourt depth. 

Centers

Player

Position

Age

2020-21 Cap Hit

Daniel Theis*

PF/C

28

$5,000,000

Vincent Poirier

C

26

$2,619,207

Robert Williams

C

22

$2,029,920

*Denotes non-guaranteed salary

Williams has played in just 61 regular season games over his first two seasons due to injuries, but when healthy, he's shown impressive athleticism, rim protection and an ability to finish at the basket off of pick-and-rolls. Williams is ready for an increased role in Year 3.

Theis started most of Boston's games at center last year and was a valuable contributor at both ends of the floor, averaging 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in 24.1 minutes per game. His $5 million salary is one of the best bargains in the league. 

Poirier appeared in just 22 games.

Recapping biggest winners and losers of 2020 NBA Draft

Overall, the Celtics could use more depth at center, especially if Kanter declines his player option and becomes a free agent. Both Williams and Theis have missed plenty of games with injuries in recent years, so it would behoove Boston to strengthen this position in free agency.

Options

Player

Position

Age

Option

Salary

Gordon Hayward

SF

30

Player

$34,187,085

Enes Kanter

C

28

Player

$5,005,350

Semi Ojeleye

SF/PF

25

Team

$1,752,950

All eyes are on Hayward after he and the team agreed to extend the deadline for him to pick up or decline his option to Thursday at 5 p.m. ET. Despite missing a bunch of games -- including most of the 2020 playoffs -- due to injuries last season, the veteran forward still averaged 17.5 points per game.

Kanter gave the C's some inside scoring and rebounding off the bench, but he wasn't playable in certain matchups, especially when small-ball lineups were the focus. Ojeleye has been a bright spot defensively but his inability to consistently knock down 3-point shots is a bit of a concern.

Free Agents

Player

Free Agent Type

Position

Age

Brad Wanamaker

RFA

PG

31

Tremont Waters

RFA

PG

22

Tacko Fall

RFA

C

24

Wanamaker did a nice job in his role for Boston, particularly in the playoffs when he played 16.1 minutes per game. He's also one of the league's best free throw shooters at 92.6 percent. If he departs in free agency, the C's would need to find another backup point guard, and preferably a veteran with some postseason experience.

Waters won the 2019-20 G-League Rookie of the Year Award and could see more action in Boston next season. Fall showed some promise but is still a raw prospect.

2021 NBA Draft Picks

First round: Own

Second round: Own

The Celtics have their own first and second round picks in next year's draft.