The Boston Celtics have a solid foundation with a core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. But for this team to reach its full potential and take a meaningful step toward the NBA Finals, some of the younger players on the roster will need to play meaningful roles.
Two of the top candidates are 2020 first-round draft picks Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard.
In the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Boston's Celtics play-by-play voice Mike Gorman explained why he's optimistic about the team's most recent first-rounders, beginning with Pritchard.
"I think there's something scouts overlook. They get into these players' combine numbers and get into their analytics -- this guy was the Player of the Year in the Pac-12," Gorman said of Pritchard. "You have to know how to play the game to win player of the year in a conference that good. That's a good conference -- there's solid teams in there, solid players in there. He's a four-year player, which, again, I like because he brings a little maturity to the team.
"He didn't get to be player of the year in that conference by necessarily being a 35 points per game guy or being a 15 rebounds per game guy, he was just a solid point guard. He pushed the ball, which Danny (Ainge) likes and coach (Brad Stevens) likes. I think he could be a little bit of a surprise. The fact that he's little older -- he's older than Tatum and Brown -- he's going to step in and surprise some people. And from what I've read, in the practices his toughness has surprised people."
In regards to Nesmith, Gorman thinks the Vanderbilt product's excellent outside shooting will be a huge benefit to the Celtics.
"I don't know if he hits the ground running, but hopefully he'll be running two months from now," Gorman said. "The thing about him, though, and I think Miami showed us all last year with guys like Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro is that you can threaten for a championship and be right there in the NBA Finals and make shooting 3-pointers a big deal. To address that, and again, the Celtics addressed some needs this offseason, they addressed the 3-point shot with this kid.
"People tell me it's a layup in the corner for him, he'll just bury it all day long. I think he will be a very good player for the Celtics in time, because people rave about his shooting. With guys like Jay Bilas calling him the best shooter in the nation, that's quite a pickup for the Celtics."
We should get our first look at Nesmith and Pritchard when the Celtics play the Philadelphia 76ers in Boston's first preseason game Tuesday night.
Also in this episode: Abby Chin shares her expectations for the Celtics this season. Which young player will make the biggest leap this season? An exclusive interview with new Celtics point guard Jeff Teague, and much more!