Celtics

Where Kemba Walker lands on SI's 'Top 100 NBA Players of 2020' list

Where Kemba Walker lands on SI's 'Top 100 NBA Players of 2020' list

Kemba Walker is the latest Celtic to show up on Sports Illustrated's "Top 100 NBA Players of 2020" list.

Marcus Smart (No. 82), Jaylen Brown (No. 68), Gordon Hayward (No. 59), and Jayson Tatum (No. 35) each preceded the C's new point guard on the annual rankings. On Wednesday, SI rolled out rankings 20 to 11 with Walker landing in the No. 20 spot.

The author of the SI piece, Rob Mahoney, particularly praised Walker for mastering the pick-and-roll but knocked the 29-year-old for his 6-foot-1 stature.

Here's more of what Mahoney had to say:

"For Walker, that could be as simple as hesitating in the space behind the screen, forcing more conservative defenses into a gut check. It could be the way he chooses to snake through a pick-and-roll rather than attempt a straight-line drive, extending his stay in the areas of the floor most sensitive to a team defense. Or it might even start earlier: before a screen is ever set, where Walker uses a subtle step to set up his defender to be creamed. Opponents have to respect the possibility that Walker might pull up for a three at any time. That makes him a risk from about 25 feet in, which has a way of making opponents antsy before Walker ever makes his move.

"The only real downsides with Walker can be pegged to his size. Coaches are generally pleased with the way he goes about his work on defense, but any player this small (Walker is a listed 6’1’’, which feels somewhat generous) will give up marginal advantages over the course of the game. It’s just easier for opponents to see over—and shoot over—the top of him. Walker gets some of those points back by positioning himself well and drawing a ton of offensive fouls, but on a certain level he will always be an undersized guard in a league oriented around verticality. Walker was blocked more than any player in the league last season. There will be passes around bigger, longer defenders that he can’t quite manage. What makes Walker a star is that he just keeps coming anyway, once more unto the breach."

Walker has been putting that talent on display this summer in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, but Celtics fans undoubtedly can't wait to see their new star get it done in the Green and White.

For what it's worth, ex-Celtics Al Horford and Kyrie Irving were ranked No. 18 and No. 15 respectively.

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Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter seems to be a fan of Boston Celtics' 7-foot-7 rookie Tacko Fall.

Kanter posted a video to Twitter of Fall practicing at Auerbach Center, and he took time to praise Fall's efforts on Twitter.

The Celtics' signed Kanter to a two-year $10 million deal back in July, while Fall entered Boston's system as an undrafted free agent but he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kanter is the replacement for Al Horford, who left the Celtics over the summer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two should be a great duo for the Celtics, as both have the height and skill to be something special this coming season.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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