Draymond Green

Predicting the NBA Awards ahead of the 2019-20 season

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Predicting the NBA Awards ahead of the 2019-20 season

The NBA experienced an unprecedented amount of player movement during the 2019 offseason, and the Warriors are no longer the overwhelming favorite for the championship. Now that the hierarchy in the league has changed and both conferences are more wide open than ever, how will that impact the league's award races?

Chris Forsberg and A. Sherrod Blakely give their predictions for the 2019-20 NBA Awards, including who they think will win MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Coach of the Year.

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Draymond Green's extension could impact a couple of Celtics

Draymond Green's extension could impact a couple of Celtics

Draymond Green will sign a four-year, $100 million max extension with the Golden State Warriors, according to an ESPN report. And the reverberations from that team-friendly pact could be felt 3,000 miles away.

Green’s extension removes another big name from the list of potential 2020 free agents. That’s notable for the Celtics, who could have two of their key players wading into free agency next summer in Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.

Brown, 22, is extension eligible this summer but it seems unlikely that he will ink a deal before the start of the season. Brown will have the motivation to assert himself this season and escalate his price tag, while the Celtics have the security of knowing Brown will be a restricted free agent, giving them the opportunity to match any offer he receives next summer

Still, a market thin on big names might make Brown that much more intriguing, particularly to teams trying to build around young talent. Other players from Brown's 2016 draft class — Jamal Murray and Ben Simmons — have already cashed in with five-year, $170 million extensions. Working in Boston’s favor: There might not be a lot of teams with ample cap space to splurge and the drool-worthy list of names that could potentially be on the free-agent market in 2021 will encourage teams to spend cautiously.

Hayward is another interesting situation. He owns a player option on the fourth and final year of the $128 million pact he signed with Boston in July 2017. It feels unlikely Hayward would walk away from $34.2 million but, with a bounce-back year, there could be motivation. Hayward will have 10 years of NBA service after this season and, at age 30 next summer, he could potentially seek security on the open market. Given his decade of experience, Hayward could command up to 35 percent of a cap that’s been projected at $117 million.

That means Hayward’s starting salary could potentially be nearly $41 million. Of course, that means he’d have to reestablish himself as an All-Star talent now further removed from the ankle injury he suffered five minutes into his first game with the Celtics, but it’s something to ponder, particularly if there’s not a lot of must-have names on the open market.

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Celtics' first-round pick Grant Williams a 'poor man's Draymond Green'?

Celtics' first-round pick Grant Williams a 'poor man's Draymond Green'?

BOSTON -- There’s no telling what impact Grant Williams will make on the Celtics after he was selected in the first round of the NBA draft. 

But he has a growing fan base, one that includes former Celtic Kendrick Perkins.

“On the defensive end, this guy, I coached him at the [pre-draft] combine, he literally can guard one [point guard] through five [center],” Perkins said on ESPN’s The Jump. “He does it all. His shot has gotten better; he scores. He’s got a nice mid-range, he finishes around the rim, he’s very athletic. And he’s an under-rated shot blocker. He reminds me of a poor man’s Draymond Green.”

And while some might see it as being a bit early to compare him to such a proven talent as Green, the numbers put up by both coming into the NBA are pretty similar. 

While Green came into the league with a significantly larger wingspan (7-feet, 1 1/4 inches compared to Williams’ 6-9 3/4 inches), the two are actually the same height (6-7 1/2) with a similar girth (Williams weighs 240.2 pounds, Green came in at 235.6). 

They have an identical hand length of nine inches, with Williams having the wider hands (10.5 inches versus Green’s 9.5). 

While the Green comparisons are nice, one of the biggest selling points when it comes to Williams is his high basketball I.Q.

Yes, the two-time SEC Player of the Year at Tennessee has legit basketball smarts. 

But Williams’ book smarts are on par with his basketball prowess, evident by him being recruited by Ivy league powers such as Harvard coming out of high school. 

“He is a special kid,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker told NBC Sports Boston. “Hard-working, smart, driven, everyone really likes him. We wanted him here at Harvard.”

“Super smart” were two of the first three words uttered by Celtics coach Brad Stevens when asked about Williams who was selected by Boston with the 22nd overall pick Thursday night.

Stevens went on to add that Williams, “is a guy that I kind of looked at as a guy with a point guard’s mind. You can run the offense through him at the elbows, at the block, at the top of the key … he just thinks the game. He’s a tough, tough guy and he’s a versatile player who can shoot the ball.

It’s way too soon to gauge exactly where he’ll fit in rotation-wise with the Celtics.

Still, listening to Stevens, it sounds as though the 20-year-old will have a role sooner rather than later. 

“Again, very intelligent and we’re looking forward to having him,” Stevens said. “We think he translates well and you couldn’t be more impressed with the kid when you sit down with him.”

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