Celtics

Who completes the Celtics' dynamic duo alongside Kemba Walker?

Who completes the Celtics' dynamic duo alongside Kemba Walker?

Forget super teams, dynamic duos are all the rage now in the NBA.

The wildest offseason in league history has delivered potential parity, in part because it feels like every team has an NBA Jam-like power pairing at the top of their roster.

The Lakers coupled Anthony Davis with LeBron James. The Clippers got a Kawhi Leonard commitment after trading for Paul George. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant took their brooding to Brooklyn. On Thursday night, the Houston Rockets dropped jaws by trading for Russell Westbrook and reuniting him with former Oklahoma City teammate James Harden.

Suddenly, there are star duos from coast to coast (especially out west) and there’s a secondary race to add complementary talent around them. Health could limit just how much we’ll see of some duos but, run down potential playoff teams, and it’s not hard to identify their star pairing. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in Portland, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in Utah, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid in Philadelphia, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in Denver, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in Milwaukee. 

And then you get to the Boston Celtics.

In an offseason in which Irving and Al Horford departed for Atlantic Division rivals, the Celtics lost quite a bit of star power. The arrival of Kemba Walker, an All-NBA third-teamer last season, locks down one of Boston’s star spots. But there’s room for debate about spot 2.

Is a healthier Gordon Hayward ready to reclaim his star spot? Is Jayson Tatum poised to make a third-year leap that elevates him to definitive star status? Could Jaylen Brown build off last year’s progress and be the Boston youngster that emerges?

The bigger question might be whether Boston’s lack of a definitive duo is a good thing or a bad thing. That three players can make the case for the No. 2 spot is seemingly a positive; that’s there’s uncertainty that any of them will make the strides necessary to cement that status is slightly concerning.

There’s a case to be made that the definitive second star might not be on Boston's roster yet. The Celtics could bundle young talent and some of their draft capital — including the future Memphis pick — and make a play for whatever star shakes free next. 

That sort of pursuit might hinge on the development of Tatum and Brown, and the progress of Hayward. 

Celtics staffers have routinely gushed about the work Hayward is putting in this summer and the early morning workout sessions he routinely engages in at the Auerbach Center. A year after he lost his summer to a second ankle surgery, there is hope that Hayward can use this offseason that could deliver a more consistent player next season. If Hayward gets back to the level of production he showed at the end of his Utah days, he would become a more obvious choice for that second star spot.

Tatum didn’t have a bad sophomore season, as the advanced metrics actually suggested he impacted the team’s production as positively as anyone when he was on the court during the regular season. He simply didn’t make the individual leaps that most were anticipating considering the glimpses from the 2018 playoff run. A more efficient Tatum, and one who plays with the sort of swagger and killer instinct befitting one of the league’s elite, could be key to Boston’s success.

Brown was quietly one of Boston’s most consistent players over the final months of the regular season last year. Post All-Star, Brown averaged 13.8 points over 25.6 minutes per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 41.3 percent beyond the 3-point arc. His stat line was similar in the postseason (13.9 points over 30.4 minutes on 50.6 percent shooting but only 35 percent beyond the 3-point arc). While Tatum tends to be the young player most think will make a leap, Brown — particularly as he starts to make a case for his next big payday — has no shortage of motivation to show he’s got a higher ceiling than most believe.

The Celtics probably need two of those three players to state a firm case for being the No. 2. As valuable as depth is in the NBA, last season showed that simply accruing a horde of talent isn’t enough to emerging as legitimate title contenders. Great teams have a mix of definitive superstars and players content to be stars in their roles. 

To reach their highest ceiling — and to better chart their path forward — the Celtics need to be able to identify whether they have that second star or not by season’s end.

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Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter has been nothing but supportive of his Boston Celtics teammates since joining the squad this summer.

Whether it's been mentoring Tacko Fall or advocating for his young teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to make the All-Star Game, Kanter has had an impact on the C's

And evidently, Kanter's support even extends to former teammates..

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On Saturday night, Kanter took to Twitter to implore NBA coaches to pick Rudy Gobert for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Kanter and Gobert were teammates for a season and a half together with the Utah Jazz before Kanter was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gobert's performance against the Dallas Mavericks prompted Kanter's tweet. In the Saturday contest, Gobert totaled 22 points, 17 boards, and five blocks, including a game-winning one at the end of regulation.

Despite his defensive prowess, Gobert has never made an All-Star appearance. He has two Defensive Player of the Year awards and two All-NBA nods, but the All-Star appearance has eluded him.

Given that Gobert is averaging 15.6 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game, and is shooting 68.3 percent from the field, it probably should be his year to make it. We'll see if Kanter's tweet has any influence on the minds of the coaches voting for All-Star reserves.

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How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

The Maine Red Claws came into the Westchester County Center Saturday night looking to extend their win streak to three. No strangers to furious late-game rallies of late, Maine got another such scare just when things were looking comfy. 

The Westchester Knicks seized control in the fourth quarter, using a 14-2 run to take a 97-94 lead with six minutes to go. But that momentum was short-lived. Sparked by a three-pointer from 2019 second-round pick Tremont Waters, the Claws closed the game out on a 16-6 run to give them their 10th win in 11 games.

Here's a look at Waters and 2019 first-round pick Romeo Langford’s best highlights, and their final stat lines.

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TREMONT WATERS

As usual, the rookie from LSU — who grew up in New Haven, just an hour north of the Knicks’ arena in White Plains, N.Y. — was one of Maine’s steadiest. With an effective field goal percentage of 63 and a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, he took command when the Claws needed him most. He finished with 21 points and six rebounds, all of them defensive.

ROMEO LANGFORD

It wasn’t a pretty night for Langford, who started the evening 2 for 10 from the floor and finished 33 percent shooting for 14 points. But despite the lack of stat sheet appeal, he was a team-high plus-14 in 33 minutes.

After Waters, the two most productive nights belonged to Yante Maten and Kaiser Gates. Maten, the former SEC Player of the Year at Georgia, was 8 for 12 from the floor for a team-high 23 points and nine rebounds despite being a team-worst minus-6. Gates was 3 for 8 from three-point range and a plus-10, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds.

The Red Claws are now 8-1 in January, good enough for second in the G League’s Eastern Conference. Optimism continues to bloom with this young but talented roster.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.