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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