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Return men: Quick thoughts on the players returning from last year’s team

It has to be better than last year, right?

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

I shared my quick thoughts on the departing players and fresh faces, so it only seems fitting to finish with thoughts about the returning players. On one hand, these guys were part of an underwhelming and frustrating group last year. On the other hand, they have been part of better things in the past and could be part of great things in the future. A lot will depend on how each of these guys takes another step forward this season.

Jayson Tatum

This is the year, right? Year three seems like a good time to break out. He’s tasted early success and fought through the adversity of a rough season. Time to take those lessons and put them to work on taking that next step in his game. Everything is set up for him to be a focal point of the offense. I think he’ll take that opportunity and run with it. If not, well then perhaps it is time to dial back the expectations.

Jaylen Brown

Similar to Tatum, this is a very important year for Jaylen. Is he going to play himself into being a max level free agent (it just takes one team to think he’s worth that)? Can he expand his game and create more off the dribble? Will he find enough touches in the offense? Will he be a candidate to be traded in order to balance the roster better? Lots of questions but he seems as focused as ever heading into a contract year.

Gordon Hayward

We’re headed into year 3 and we still haven’t seen the “real” Gordon Hayward. I don’t know that “Utah Gordon” is still something that is reasonable to expect or even hope for anymore. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be very valuable to the Celtics this season and perhaps beyond. My hope is that on offense he fills the Al Horford role of steady handed facilitator. Too much last year he seemed like a spectator so he does need to follow through on being more aggressive. If not, then he might be an expiring contract trade chip by mid year.

Marcus Smart

The Captain of the Boston Celtics in everything except the official title. The 3 point shooting albatross plagued him for years but last year he finally improved enough to be considered a reasonable threat from long distance. That key element unlocked the rest of his “winning plays” game. Ironically it happened after he cashed in on a big contract extension. That’s just how the unconventional Marcus rolls. Looking forward to more leadership and Tommy Points for Smart this season.

Semi Ojeleye

This is year 3 for Semi and he’s best known for having ginormous muscles and kinda-sorta slowing down Giannis on occasion. Can he knock down 3’s consistently enough to earn more playing time? Or will he be passed up by rookie Grant Williams?

Daniel Theis

Nagging injuries seemed to hold him back last year. If he can get back to playing his best basketball he’ll be in the mix for heavy rotation minutes. If not, then there are 3 other centers that would be more than happy to sop up those minutes.

Robert Williams

Speaking of centers, Williams has perhaps the widest range of potential outcomes. He has the upside to eventually be the starting center for the Celtics for years to come. He also has the downside of toiling in the G-League. He has all the athletic tools and some of the instincts needed to be a defensive stud, but he needs the game to slow down for him to get there.

Brad Wanamaker

Buried under a depth chart that wasn’t producing had to be a frustrating experience for Brad. The depth chart hasn’t gotten any shallower this year either. Wanamaker is injury insurance and will professionally go about his job in the right way. Not sure how much more to expect from him but you never know.

Ok, I feel like I’m ready for Media Day now. How about you?

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