Celtics

Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward represent Celtics on initial SI Top 100 NBA players

Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward represent Celtics on initial SI Top 100 NBA players

With about a month-and-a-half to go before the 2019-20 NBA season tips off for the Celtics, it's that time of year where major media outlets release their Top 100 NBA player rankings. 

Sports Illustrated released part of their Top 100 on Monday, and there are three Celtics who made their way on. 

These rankings have little to no impact on how a team performs in the following season, but it's something to look back on, especially if one of these Celtics has a breakout campaign that vaults them into next year's top 20. 

Let's see how they made out. 

MARCUS SMART: No. 82

Specialists are notoriously hard to rank, for the simple reason that they can provide different teams with dramatically different value. Smart simplified that analysis by more fully rounding out his game. Not only did he shoot 36% from beyond the arc, but he did so at volume, hitting just 11 fewer threes for the season than Kevin Durant did.... Smart is one of the sport’s most suffocating defenders, capable of swinging games even before his offense gave him a chance.

JAYLEN BROWN: No. 68

Just when Jaylen Brown seemed ready to enter the next phase of his development, his game—and Boston’s entire season—went sideways. These things happen....Any wing with Brown’s skill, bounce, and intelligence has the makings of a star, if only they could find the traction. To reach that point, Brown will need to find comfort in making quick decisions; refine his work with the ball; and harness his athleticism more fully. There’s a strong frame in place. Now it’s up to Brown to find what all it can bear.

GORDON HAYWARD: No. 59

To say that Gordon Hayward underwhelmed last season is putting it kindly. Perhaps we should have known better when the Celtics were downplaying things from the start, insisting even before the season that Hayward’s first year back from a fractured leg and dislocated ankle would be a deliberate process.... Placing him at 59 reflects both the star he was in Utah and the fickle contributor he’s been since. Even if Hayward’s days as a star really are over, it seems fair to give him one more season to prove it so. Expect him to make a big move in the Top 100 of 2021, one way or another.

This only covers half of SI's Top 100. Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum are most likely ranked somewhere in the top 50, with Walker most likely earning the highest ranking for any member of the Celtics. 

Boston may have lost Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency, but they still have plenty of talent and potential to be a top-three seed in the eastern conference. 

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Season preview; breaking down the opener vs. 76ers

Celtics Talk Podcast: Season preview; breaking down the opener vs. 76ers

Our crew that covers the Celtics has you covered as we preview the season and look ahead to Wednesday's opener in Philly against the Sixers.

2:00 - Kyle Draper, Chris Forsberg, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Brian Scalabrine give their expectations for the Boston Celtics this season. 

6:00 - How big of a year is this for Jaylen Brown? What do we see happening with his contract? 

9:00 - What expectations do we have for Jayson Tatum?

12:00 - What level can we expect Gordon Hayward to return to?

14:00 - Abby Chin hosts ‘Rookie Watch’. Where our crew debates which rookie will have the biggest impact for the Celtics this season. 

19:30 - Paul Hudrick covers the Sixers for NBC Sports Philadelphia. He joins the crew to preview the Celtics-76ers opening night matchup. (21:00) How does Al Horford fit into the mix with the 76ers? (22:00) How much pressure is on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid? (27:00) How do people in Philadelphia feel about the Boston Celtics this season?

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE:

Should Kanter start or come off the Celtics bench?

Should Kanter start or come off the Celtics bench?

BOSTON -- Enes Kanter is easily the most accomplished big man among the consortium of bigs the Celtics collected over the summer. 

And while his role will be an important one, there are plenty of indicators pointing towards Kanter beginning the season as a key performer coming off the Celtics bench. 

The 6-foot-11 center came off the bench in all three of his preseason appearances  Kanter averaged 17.2 minutes, 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, along with shooting 53.3 percent from the field in the three games. 

From the time Kanter signed with Boston, the Celtics have made no secret about him playing a significant role as a scorer in the low post. 

“He just knows how to score around the basket,” Kemba Walker told NBC Sports Boston. “As long as I’ve been in the league, that’s what Enes does; he’s a scorer, for sure.”

His strength and Boston’s need for more scoring at the rim led to many assuming he would be the starting center. 

But coach Brad Stevens has hinted on multiple occasions that he sees Kanter being most useful coming off the bench - something Kanter says he’s on board with, if that’s what Stevens wants to do. 

“Throughout my career, I play as a starter and as a player coming off the bench,” Kanter told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m OK either way.”

The eight-year veteran has appeared in 583 regular-season games, with 216 of those as a starter. 

That’s why the idea of starting or being a key reserve doesn’t change anything for him as far as how he approaches games. 

“If we’re winning, everything is cool,” Kanter said. “I know where coach is going. Obviously, first unit everybody can score. With me and [Marcus] Smart with the second unit, we can come in and … we have another level to go to.”

According to Hoopsstats.com, the Celtics averaged 38.4 bench points last season, which ranked 10th in the NBA. 

With Terry Rozier in Charlotte via sign-and-trade, Marcus Morris in New York and Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward back in the Celtics’ starting lineup, Boston’s second unit will look dramatically different than a year ago. 

Kanter coming off the bench provides the Celtics with a legit, proven scorer with the second unit with career averages of 11.7 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

Starting or not, the focus for Kanter remains the same - make an impact as soon as he can once he enters the game. 

Achieving that becomes easier if there’s a heightened level of comfort with his teammates. It's something Kanter has made a priority in his first training camp with the Celtics. 

“We know how to score the ball, how to play basketball,” Kanter said. “For the preseason the most important thing for us is to build that chemistry. Whenever we go out there, we’re trying to communicate, we’re trying to trust each other and try to get used to playing with each other. 

Kanter added, “That’s the most important thing. Off the court is so important. That’s going to make us better teammates, better friends. So, right now, all I care about what’s going on off the court. Once we get in there, we’ll be fine.”

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