The Celtics have had a whirlwind of change hit them the past few weeks.
It has become more and more inevitable that Kyrie Irving will not return to the team next season. This past week, Al Horford opted out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics. There was an assumption he would sign a team-friendly deal with the team, but negotiations broke down, and there are reports the Mavericks will offer him a 4-year, $112 million contract in free agency; translation: he gone.
The worst case scenario seems to have arrived, but some hope came last night in the form of the NBA Draft.
The Celtics made selections at 14, 22, 33, and 51 last night, and in the process, traded team favorite Aron Baynes to the Phoenix Suns for a future first round pick (from Milwaukee).
You can never analyze a draft this quickly, and I am sure there will be players picked in the range of Boston’s picks that will do well (although no one will say they will today), and only Boston will be criticized for not taking them. Nevertheless, with the picks they had, Boston added some depth, bet on potential, and set themselves up to be a team centered around their new core: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Marcus Smart.
Lets meet the newest members of the team.
Romeo Langford, SG (6-6, 215 lbs)
College Career Stats: 16.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.8 BPG
.448 FG% – .272 3P% – .772 FT% (32 games)
Langford was a 5-star prospect coming into college, considered one of the best prospects in the country.
He seemed to fail to meet expectations his only season at Indiana, particularly scaring scouts by shooting only 27% from 3. Something to keep in mind: Langford injured his thumb very early into the season, but decided to finish the year, as opposed to shutting it down.
We don’t know for certainty how much of an effect this had on his play, but it should be noted that three point shot seemed to improve the towards the end of the year. His final 12 games in college he shot over 35% from 3, much more respectable than he started.
Draft experts point to the touch on his shot as an indicator he could be okay in the long run, and they believe his frame and wingspan (6’11”) all point to sings of him being a strong defender.
This is Danny Ainge taking a risk, but one I think was worthy. It doesn’t necessarily fill a need on the team, but if Langford reaches his offensive potential, he could be a key piece in helping this team in the future. His defensive attributes fill right in with the identity of the Celtics. It’s a wing-driven league, and Langford looks like the protypical tall guard/wing in the modern NBA.
If he gets a consistent jumper and puts up points, this could be a steal, otherwise, Romeo will be a limited guard out of the league by the end of his rookie deal.
Grant Williams, PF (6-7, 236 lbs)
College Career Stats: 15.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.5 BPG
.516 FG% – .291 3P% – .758 FT% (104 games)
Grant Williams was sort of an enigma entering the NBA Draft.
Some experts rated him in the top 10 – even top 5 – of their big boards. Others saw him falling out of the first round, going early in the second round of the draft; Williams ended up somewhere in the middle of that range, going 22 to Boston.
His strengths include his strength (you read that well), as well as a high IQ with consistent examples of making the right play.
“Strength, when applied to all the aspects of the game Williams applies it to, is as valuable as any athletic ability”
-Max Carlin, CelticsBlog
When tested at the P3 Biomechanics facility, Grant Williams came in in the 96th percentile in terms of strength based on their database. He is STRONG, and it could be the foundation of a great career.
However, some scouts are concerned about where he’ll play in the pros, and that his height and wingspan (he’s only 6’7″ in shoes, and his wingspan is roughly 6’11”) could prevent him from being a big forward/small ball center.
He may not be used like he was in college, but I think some of Williams best abilities will serve him will in Boston. He seems like an incredibly smart, team-first player who could develop a nice jump shot to become a stretch big (but it will take time). If he can take notes from the likes of Al Horford, he could be a worthy player in years to come.
It looks like he’ll be a solid role player at worst, but if he continues to develop his game, he could become a unique weapon down the line.
Best pick of the night in my opinion.
Carsen Edwards, combo guard (6-1, 201 lbs)
Career College Stats: 17.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.2 SPG, 0.2 BPG
.412 FG% – .368 3P% – .817 FT% (108 games)
If you watched any of the NCAA Tournament this year, you probably will remember Carsen Edwards.
Edwards averaged 34.8 PPG in the tournament this year, shooting 45.1% from the field and 45.9% from 3. He averaged 24.3 PPG during his junior year, and he had the Boilermakers on the verge of the Final 4.
“His value lies in his ability to handle and create shots a bit off the bench while also being able to put pressure on defenses running around screens in starting units alongside lead ball-handlers.”
-Ricky Scricca/The Stepien
The league is filled with volume scoring point guards, and although undersized, Edwards fits the bill. His range will be a huge asset in the modern NBA, and if he can make his way to the Celtics this year, he could see time as a backup ball handler.
Edwards rise in college reminds me of Isaiah Thomas, but he might be a better player than IT entering the NBA. His best asset will be scoring in bunches, and his peak would look like IT if we’re being honest.
He might not get much playing time this year, but as someone who fell in the draft a bit, and has had to fight the stigma of being considered too short his entire career, if he keeps fighting to improve, he’ll be making an impact before you know it.
Really like the potential here.
Tremont Waters, PG (5-11, 175 lbs)
Career College Stats: 15.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.9 APG, 2.5 SPG, 0.1 BPG
.423 FG% – .340 3P% – .807 FT% (66 games)
Thought you loved Edwards because he was undersized, well just wait until you learn about Tremont Waters!
Waters is just 5’11”, but that hasn’t stopped him just yet.
He was a great two-way player at LSU, playing solid defense while doing a great job as a playmaker on offense.
He’s another high IQ player, someone who has learned how to play in spite of their limited size thus far, and could make use of it in the pros. Whatever chances Edwards has of playing Day 1 in Boston, Waters likely has even less.
Best case scenario is he goes to Maine, cleans up his game, and eventually becomes a strong bench player. Otherwise, he’ll be a swing and a miss, as most late second rounders are.
Safe pick with some potential, but to be determined.
Current Celtics Depth Chart:
PG: Marcus Smart, Carsen Edwards, Tremont Waters
SG: Jaylen Brown, Romeo Langford
SF: Gordon Hayward, Semi Ojeleye
PF: Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams, Guerschon Yabusele
C: Robert Williams
I was personally a fan of the moves the Celtics made tonight.
They got some solid, high character players, and they also cleared some cap space when they traded Aron Baynes.
If Irving and Horford do in fact leave, the team should have roughly $26 million in cap space, but if they renounce the rights of Terry Rozier and make him an UNrestricted free agent, they’ll have $34 million in cap space… the money needed to make a max offer for a player who’s played between 7 to 9 seasons in the NBA is $32.8 million.
Maybe they target a bit like Nikola Vucevic or Kevon Looney to replace Al Horford. Maybe they swing for a point guard like D’Angelo Russell or Kemba Walker.
Another possibility: take on a big contract that has assets attached to it (i.e. future first round pick) into the salary space they have (Steven Adams has been connected to the team).
The oldest player on the team at the moment is Gordon Hayward (29), and it seems clear they’ve bounced on the timeline of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
They boast some talented players with the potential to make some noise in a weak Eastern Conference; team-first atmosphere with a great defense. This team reminds me of the situation Portland was in following the departures of LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews in 2015. This left the team in the hands of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
For better or worse, this team now belongs to Tatum and Brown, and it’s up to them to own the opportunity in front of them.
Credit to photo above goes to Brian Spurlock of USA TODAY Sports
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