Forsberg's Focus: What's the plan for Tacko and Tremont in 2021? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
* Each weekday for the rest of October, our Chris Forsberg will put a member of the 2019-20 Celtics under the microscope, assessing their season and what the future holds for that player:
+7.4 / +6.9
Those were the net ratings for Tremont Waters and Tacko Fall, respectively, for the Maine Red Claws this season. Those were the top numbers among regulars and only fellow rookie Romeo Langford was better with a plus-12.4 in 166 minutes on assignment.
Maine had a team-best offensive rating of 112 with Waters on the court, helping him earn both the G-League Rookie of the Year and a spot on the All-G-League second team. The Claws had a defensive rating of 97 — or 8.8 points per 100 possession less than their season average — when Fall was on the court, helping him earn a spot on the G-League All-Defensive first team.
What went right for Waters/Fall in 2020
The Celtics snagged Waters with the 51st overall pick in the draft and, while he spent the majority of the year in Maine, he showed in small glimpses that he could confidently run an NBA offense. Last season was all about development and Waters got 1,217 minutes in Maine to hone his game and state his case for a spot on the NBA roster moving forward.
The 7-foot-5 Fall was a fan favorite from the first time he stepped on the court at summer league. While incredibly raw, Fall performed better than most might have expected. And he made most NBA guards look like schoolchildren next to him. It didn’t matter if he was active for games or not, Celtics fans would chant for Fall throughout games and the roof would practically explode on TD Garden whenever we actually got a bit of Tacko Time.
What went wrong for Waters/Fall in 2020
For all the encouraging glimpses in the G-League, Waters’ NBA minutes highlighted some areas he needs to tighten up to emerge as a backup guard for this team. He struggled with his shot, connecting on just 28.6 percent of his attempts overall and 16.7 of 3-pointers in 119 minutes of floor time. The Celtics turned the ball over a team-high 17.7 percent of possessions with Waters on the floor. He’s got to prove his size won’t be a detriment, defensively, when he’s on the court as well.
Fall has a long way to go to prove he’s a rotation-caliber NBA big man but very little went wrong this year. About the worst thing that happened was Fall got inserted into a playoff game against Toronto to defend a final play, only for Kyle Lowry to lob a perfect crosscourt inbounds pass to OG Anunoby for the Game 3 winner.
Early outlook for Waters/Fall for 2021
If the Celtics don’t retain Brad Wanamaker, or otherwise add a ball-handler this offseason, Waters could be in line to elevate to a spot on the parent roster. His playmaking ability is undeniable and he was excellent in the G-League but there’s still strides to be made to be a consistent rotation presence at the NBA level.
Fall’s situation is a little trickier. Another season in the G-League is probably his best development path but his popularity and potential could entice another team to carry him on their NBA roster. Fall’s willingness to accept another 2-way deal with Boston could hinge on that outside interest.