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

/ by Nick Goss
Presented By TD Bank
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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

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.