Jayson Tatum

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WEEI’s 2019-20 Celtics season preview

Nick Friar
October 23, 2019 - 7:00 am
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The NBA season is underway and it’s time for a “fresh start” in Boston. Here’s the season preview for the 2019-20 Celtics:

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Driving force...

Signing Kemba Walker in the offseason was huge. Gordon Hayward being back to full-strength is important. But Boston’s success this year is reliant on one person above all else: Jayson Tatum.

Now in his third year, if he’s going to take the step toward stardom, this is the time to do it. Walker may be the ball-dominant player on the team, but Tatum showed over the summer and into the preseason how he’s developed offensively.

Now, Jaylen Brown isn’t off the hook in all of this. He needs to live up to his extension. He should have the role he wanted last year. But Tatum has shown the most promise of the two in their respective NBA career.

Boston is going to be one of the best teams in the East. But if they want to have a legitimate shot at being a contender or anything of the sort, Tatum needs to be the guy.

Concerning...

Robert Williams and Semi Ojeleye didn’t look great in the preseason.

In the four games, Ojeleye didn’t show improvement on the offensive end. Defensively, he was non-existent. He’s one of the few players who, in the past, has shown any promise of being able to fill Al Horford’s role in any capacity. Right now, it doesn’t look like he’ll be able to take over those responsibilities.

Time Lord will block shots. He will catch lobs. But, like Ojeleye, he looks clunky on the defensive end. It’s almost like they’ve both been trying to do too much on that end of the floor. The Celtics can’t afford to give players major minutes if they’re making mental mistakes to that level.

Those two play a part in the team’s biggest question mark: interior defense.

Rookie impact...

Carsen Edwards and Grant Williams are the two Celtics rookies in position to contribute throughout the year.

Williams could fill Ojeleye’s role if the third-year wing can’t meet expectations.

Edwards should have a spot in the rotation no matter what. As everyone has realized by now, he can light it up from three.

Surprisingly helpful...

Vincent Poirier is sound on the defensive end. He moves well and has good instincts.

Now, Poirier won’t make a groundbreaking difference, but he can help Boston’s interior defense until they do something else to address the problem.

Move to make...

The Celtics need to add a big guy before the trade deadline. One who plays defense, in case that wasn’t already obvious. This isn’t optional.

Regular season record...

50-32

The Eastern Conference is down. Losing Horford was huge, but this team isn’t going to take nights off. They’re going to win the games they’re supposed to, which will help bolster their record.

What this all manifests into...

The Celtics will win in their first-round matchup. They’ll put up a better fight in the second round than they did in 2018-19, but Boston will ultimately come up short and not reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

MVP…

James Harden

Rookie of the Year...

RJ Barrett

NBA Finals…

Bucks over Clippers in 6 games.

Related: 5 Out's 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings