After a short off-season hiatus, I returned to the CelticsPod to begin preparations for the new season and is joined by The Kings Herald’s Brenden Nunes to get an outsiders viewpoint on Boston’s run to the NBA Finals and how their roster stacks up heading into the new season.
Brenden, the original co-host of the CelticsPod, was complimentary of the Celtics' success last season but did throw their chances of making it out of the East into question - noting how the conference has gotten deeper, and teams around them have improved.
“I like to think of it in tiers,” Brenden said.
- Tier 1
- Tier 2
Brenden noted how the Philadelphia 76ers have vastly improved their talent and depth this summer, while the Brooklyn Nets have all the pieces to be a championship-caliber roster if they can figure things out. And while the Miami Heat has had a disappointing off-season, you can never count them out.
Following a brief discussion about potential contenders in the East, I began to get Brenden’s outlook on the Celtics roster from last season - starting with the improvements of Robert Williams and Marcus Smart. For the most part, Brenden was willing to heap praise upon Boston’s internal development but did question whether Smart is the right player to be operating as the team’s starting point-guard - something which I pushed back on after Smart’s impressive season.
“What I will say about Marcus Smart, and he impressed me with this...When Smart was on ball as the ball-handler, he was very good at using his body to fake guys out, his eye movement was solid, and he drags out loads of plays. What, I’m saying is, when Smart comes over a screen, instead of looking for a pass straight away, he continues to dribble around the perimeter — and that’s called dragging it out, you’re dragging the play around the perimeter.
And the reason you do that is that then you’re dragging the defense with you, the low defense needs to shift to that side to prepare itself for any drive, and the point of attack defense is following you. That allows for cutters to come off the weak side, or for big men to slip, and creates passing lanes that way. Smart was exceptional at doing that last season, he’d drag it out and kick it — or, he would get off the ball early, and then flow into a screen before popping out into a corner somewhere to space the floor. So, yes, Smart wasn’t an elite playmaker or elite shot creator last season, but he was elite in his role.”
Once we had ironed out our list of potential contenders for next season, it was time to dive into the NBA 2k23 ratings for the Celtics roster, as we began to explore if we thought any of the players had been undervalued or overvalued.
Of course, Jaylen Brown’s 87 overall rating is the one that caused the most fuss amongst the fanbase, with most people feeling that was a slight snub after his fantastic performances in the post-season, but Brenden believed it was a fair rating, given Brown’s limitations as a ball-handler.
“I think that’s fair. Jalen is a guy who I think. Is a really good second option, but definitely has some flaws in his game. I think by taking him away from that like 90 + range, I think that’s fair for where he is right now,” Brenden said.
For reference, the Celtics 2k ratings are as follows:
- Jayson Tatum – 93
- Jaylen Brown – 87
- Robert Williams – 85
- Malcolm Brogdon – 82
- Al Horford – 82
- Marcus Smart – 82
- Derrick White – 78
- Danilo Gallinari – 78
- Grant Williams – 77
- Payton Pritchard – 76
- Sam Hauser – 71
- Luke Kornet – 70
- Mfiondu Kabengele – 70
Finally, we finished up by discussing the Celtics' improvements in developing talent via the G-League and two-way contracts, as it shouldn’t be lost on anybody that both Luke Kornet and Sam Hauser have come via the system in Maine. With that being said, if Boston continues to provide raw and/or undrafted talent with a pipeline towards making the NBA, it’s likely that we see them reap the benefits by securing some of the higher upside players moving forwards.
You can find all this and MORE on Monday’s episode of the CelticsPod podcast, which comes to you three times per week, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
You can find regular episodes of the CelitcsPod and Celtics PRIDE podcasts on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever else you listen to your podcasts, and if you prefer to watch your podcasts, every episode of the CelticsPod is uploaded to my YouTube channel.