Celtics

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

When the Boston Celtics open training camp next month, they will have a whopping eight first-year players on the court. That number will include four drafted rookies, two summer league standouts on camp invitations, an undrafted two-way player, and a European import.

In the fourth installment of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to pick which of those rookies will have the biggest impact on the Celtics during the 2019-20 season.

Boston drafted four rookies in Romeo Langford (14th overall), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), and Tremont Waters (51). They later signed undrafted swingman Max Strus to one of their two-way deals, while summer league standouts Javonte Green and Tacko Fall are coming to camp with a chance to compete for a final roster spot. The Celtics also signed French 7-footer Vincent Poirier to add another body to their frontcourt.

That’s a lot of youth and inexperience but, then again, only four Celtics players have more than three years of NBA experience overall in Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Enes Kanter. Which is to say that there will be plenty of opportunities for younger players to make an immediate impact if they prove themselves ready for immediate minutes.

Typically, you might lean towards the lottery pick but Langford missed all of summer league while rehabbing from thumb surgery and will be playing a bit of catchup when camp opens.

Given Boston’s new-look frontcourt following the departure of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, it would seem a solid bet to suggest that Grant Williams or Poirier might have the clearest path to contributing. As you’ll read below, our panel leaned heavy in that direction and we’d probably be inclined to agree with their pick.

But we could also make the case for Edwards, an elite bucket-getter at the college level who showed at summer league that he’s not bashful about getting up shots. The departure of Terry Rozier could open an opportunity for backup guard minutes and if Edwards can give a little offensive jolt to the second unit, he could carve out minutes.

Scoring against rotation NBA players won’t be as easy as it was against rookies and roster hopefuls at summer league but Edwards can create his own shot, brings some rugged defense, and will have a chance to stake his claim for backcourt minutes.

Abby Chin: Grant Williams

The Celtics need all the help they can get in the frontcourt. The opportunity is there. And I feel like there’s a lot of hype surrounding the smart, versatile, if a little undersized, Tennessee product. I’m expecting big things.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: Grant Williams

The team's lack of depth and overall uncertainty in the frontcourt means all their bigs, Grant Williams included, will get a chance to play. He won't wow us with his numbers but his basketball savvy will come in handy on some nights and play a role in the Celtics winning more games than most anticipate.

 

Max Lederman: Grant Williams

Williams already has an NBA body (strength wise, at least) and is a smart, winning player. I was also really impressed with his willingness to let the game come to him in summer league, which shows me he'll be fine in whatever role the team asks him to play. He's also a concrete wall setting screens.

Countdown to C's Camp: Awards predictions>>>

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Watch Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards hit 8 3s in third quarter vs. Cavaliers

Watch Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards hit 8 3s in third quarter vs. Cavaliers

Tuesday night's Celtics-Cavaliers preseason matchup was the Carsen Edwards Show.

The C's rookie guard came out of the locker room at halftime on fire, draining eight 3-pointers in the third quarter.

Watch below:

Edwards actually had a rough start to the game as he briefly exited after taking an elbow to the face and struggled to find consistency shooting the ball. It's safe to say Boston's second-round draft pick turned his luck around.

The C's entered Tuesday's game in Cleveland with a 3-0 preseason record.

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Celtics buy the Maine Red Claws but all the talk is about - who else? - Tacko Fall

Celtics buy the Maine Red Claws but all the talk is about - who else? - Tacko Fall

PORTLAND, Maine -- The day was supposed to be about the Celtics taking over ownership of the Maine Red Claws, a move that strengthens an already Teflon-tough bond that has existed for years between the two franchises. 

“This is important to the Celtics player development efforts,” said Rich Gotham, Celtics team president. “We love the market up here. You might think it’s a hockey state if you didn’t know any better. But you find out quickly it really is a great basketball state, so we’re happy to be in Maine and being in a vibrant city like Portland.”

But anything Celtics-related in some way, shape or form these days will come back to Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 sensation who attracts attention anywhere he’s at - and, in this case, where he’ll be in the near future. 

Fall recently signed a two-way contract with the Celtics, which means the bulk of this season will be spent in Maine as a member of the Red Claws, the C's Gatorade League affiliate. 

Undrafted out of Central Florida in last June’s draft, Fall has been on the minds of Red Claws fans for quite a while, actually. 

“After his first appearance in summer league with the Celtics, we couldn’t go a day in the state of Maine without someone asking, “Is Tacko going to be in Maine?” said Dajuan Eubanks, the Red Claws team president.

The good folks of Maine will get their wish now that Fall has been signed to the two-way contract, which allows him to spend no more than 45 days with the Celtics while the rest of his time will be spent with the Red Claws. 

“For us, it’s going to be great to have someone of that stature,” Eubanks said. “He has a lot of promise as well. I’m excited to have him here and develop.”

But TackoMania is clearly not just a New England or Celtics thing. 

Everywhere the Celtics have played, Fall has become an instant fan favorite with chants of “We Want Tacko” beginning sometime around the latter stages of the first quarter or in the second, even though he has played primarily in the fourth quarter this preseason. 

While it’s still to be determined whether he will start or how many minutes he will play, there’s no question that the Red Claws have every intention of finding a way to utilize him on the floor, certainly more than he has been used by the Celtics in the preseason. 

“Development is such a huge part of what we do, making players better on and off the court,” said Austin Ainge, the Celtics’ director of player personnel. “And the G-League has now become an essential part of that.”

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