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Here's how Thompson and Teague can help C's immediately

/ by Darren Hartwell
Presented By TD Bank
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The Boston Celtics were one of the four best teams in the NBA last season. They were also its least experienced.

The Celtics' 2019-20 roster, led by fresh-faced stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, averaged just 2.7 years of NBA experience, the lowest in the NBA. Gordon Hayward left the C's even greener when he joined the Charlotte Hornets in free agency.

None of this was lost on Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge last week when his team signed the 29-year-old Tristan Thompson and the 32-year-old Jeff Teague.

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"We have a lot of young players, and I think it was important for us this offseason to bring in some veteran players," Ainge said Tuesday in a press conference.

The duo should provide more than just veteran leadership, though. Thompson, who averaged a career-high 12 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, is a proven two-way big man who likely will lead Boston's frontcourt rotation alongside Daniel Theis.

"He's such a threat at the rim," head coach Brad Stevens said of Thompson at Tuesday's press conference. "He's a tremendous offensive rebounder. He's good with dribble hand-offs. He's good with fakes. I hope that our wings, with all of the attention that they draw, that will open up opportunities for him as well."

 

Thompson is used to making the most of his opportunities: He had a relatively low usage rate in Cleveland while sharing the floor with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. That experience should benefit him in a C's offense led by Tatum, Brown and (eventually) Kemba Walker.

The Celtics also are excited about Thompson's impact on defense, where Boston was exposed in the frontcourt at times last season when Theis was off the floor.

"He's that versatile big," Stevens said. "He can defend inside and outside. He's great on the glass. I'm looking forward to having him. He complements our guys well."

"He's mobile, he can switch, he can keep the ball in front of him and he can run the floor," Ainge added of Thompson.

Teague, meanwhile, is point guard insurance that Boston suddenly needs with Walker sidelined until at least January. While he's far removed from his lone All-Star campaign in 2014-15, he should at least be a solid short-term stopgap in the backcourt.

"Jeff is just a proven guy," Ainge said. " ... He had a couple 30-point games last year, and we still think that he can step in, especially early on to bridge the gap until Kemba is ready to go, but also play a significant role off the bench or in a starting role."

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Marcus Smart and rookie Payton Pritchard also could play point guard in Walker's absence, but Stevens is hopeful Teague can make an impact even when Walker returns.

"He pushes the ball and puts pressure on the defense," Stevens said. "It says a lot about him that he'd sign to come here because he wants to win. ... We're glad he's here."

Adding Thompson and Teague doesn't necessarily push the Celtics into the NBA title conversation. (They acquired the largest trade exception in NBA history for a reason.) But the two veterans both are solid value adds who should contribute right away.