Well folks, the Celtics have played two preseason games, and there are a few things we know for sure: Payton Pritchard is a future Hall of Famer, Oshae Brissett will win the dunk contest, and the Kornet Kontest is more dangerous than ever.
But seriously, while it’s important to take everything that happens here with a grain of salt, the preseason does offer a glimpse into what we should expect long term. Here are a few pleasant surprises and a few things to worry about moving forward.
Before you ask, no...Pritchard doesn’t make this list. Personally, his explosion doesn’t surprise me one bit. The man’s an assassin. They paid him for a reason.
Kristaps Porzingis really is a perfect fit.
After a dizzying offseason with a series of a franchise-altering moves, this is as good a time as any to really see what the Celtics have.
We already knew the Celtics acquired a supremely talented player in Kristaps Porzingis. What we didn’t know was exactly how he would mesh on the floor with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the rest of the core.
"I'm very happy to be a Celtic, I'm not going to lie." ☘️— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 9, 2023
Kristaps Porzingis was all smiles talking about his first experience playing at TD Garden as a Celtic last night #Bleedgreen @Celtics @kporzee pic.twitter.com/7nCYMNdQtL
It’s a small sample size, yes, but I was pleasantly surprised with how organic the fit looked. It seemed like they had played together for years. Porzingis has mentioned how he wants to make life easier for Tatum and Brown, and that’s exactly what he did against the 76ers.
His ability to space the floor, post up and alter shots at the rim is truly exceptional, and I’m even more encouraged now than I was when the trade happened.
That is a very tall, very versatile and very skilled man. It was a great trade.
Do the Celtics have enough on the glass?
Porzingis certainly helps, but I’m curious to see whether the Celtics can hold their own on the glass.
Tatum is an underrated rebounder. Is there a chance he leads the team again? That’s not necessarily ideal, but I guess it works. Al Horford, Derrick White, Jrue Holiday and Brown will all need to help in that area.
The Celtics outrebounded their opponent in both games. Nothing they did or didn’t do in that area stood out in a major way, but I am slightly concerned long term about this team’s ability to keep pace on the boards with big and physical teams. It will be something to monitor moving forward.
I could absolutely see Svi Mykhailiuk having a role off the bench for the Boston Celtics next season. Like his athleticism and energy.— Tomek Kordylewski (@Timi_093) October 10, 2023
He got 15 points last night in New York: pic.twitter.com/HYbGbl9j3B
Svi Mykhailiuk can flat-out shoot it.
I already knew this, so it’s not totally a surprise, but it was fun to see him go off in a Celtics uniform. I actually really like this pickup.
Sure, Mykhailiuk isn’t necessarily the best defender of all time, but the Celtics don’t really need him to be. He’s the kind of guy who can give you two or three 3’s in a few minutes and change the complexion of the game. Some guys can shoot it. Mykhailiuk can shoot it.
Plus, with such elite defenders around him, that weakness won’t be as magnified.
I'd like to see him make the roster and contribute on a regular basis.
Is Sam Hauser in danger of losing minutes?
It’s just two preseason games, so it doesn’t mean a whole lot, but Sam Hauser shot a combined 2 for 15 from 3 (0 for 0 from 2, for those curious) and looked off both nights.
It can be tough as a shooter to find a rhythm when shots aren’t falling. I expect him to get back on track and maintain his spot as the seventh or eighth man, but if he does struggle from outside, there’s a chance Mykhailiuk could take his spot.
I give Hauser the slight edge defensively, Mykhailiuk the slight edge as a playmaker and think they’re ultimately about equal as shooters. Joe Mazzulla has the luxury of going with whoever’s hot that night, but in my opinion, the pressure is on Hauser to make sure that person is him.
Lamar Stevens is highly versatile.
I think there’s a pretty decent chance Lamar Stevens carves out regular minutes. He’s one of those guys who’s consistently in the right place at the right time and makes winning plays.
What a sequence from Lamar Stevens pic.twitter.com/3qDfMP38Oq— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 10, 2023
He’s basically too effective to keep off the floor. If he can come in and give the Celtics instant energy in 10 minutes a night, that could go a long way. He’s an excellent defender who can more or less guard 1 through 5 and rotates extremely well.
Stevens is also a sneaky good driver and finisher and is fully capable of hitting 3’s. I’d like to see him on the floor with, say, Holiday, Tatum, Porzingis and Horford, as a floor spacer on one end and a pest on the other.
Is Luke Kornet the answer?
I’m a big Kornet guy, and, like Brad Stevens, I think he’s underrated.
He’s serviceable, smart, has a soft touch and sees the floor well for a guy his size. My concern lies more on the defensive end and as a rebounder.
While I understand some might Kontest this take, I’m not entirely sure he can be the eighth or ninth man on a championship team.
The first Kornet contest of the season! pic.twitter.com/tbaw9se8dk— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 9, 2023
If the Celtics roll with a lineup like White, Brown, Tatum, Brissett, Kornet, can Kornet do enough in the paint? If Porzingis is on the bench and Horford is out, can he guard a strong opposing big and match his physicality? The answer might be yes, but I have to see it several times to fully believe it.
It seems like Kornet will play. Is he ready for an increased role? We’ll find out soon enough.