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The big man behind the big men: the importance of Luke Kornet

The Celtics big man moves up the depth chart of a championship team.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard not to like Luke Kornet.

Whether it’s him taking the mic as podcast host of’s View From the Rafters or bringing back Stromile Swift’s bird celebration, the Boston big man quickly became the team president of team vibes and a fan favorite.

He had positive impact on the floor, too. When scouting Kornet before the Celtics acquired him two years ago, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens commented, "the biggest thing with Luke, obviously, Luke is a guy who can shoot the ball. We’ve also been intrigued with Luke for a long time because of his pick-and-roll defense. His ability, he’s always in good position. He’s long. He effects shots at the rim. He’s a guy that we’ve always had an interest in because of those two things."

When called upon in a pinch (particularly when Robert Williams was out to open last season), Kornet averaged nearly six points, five rebounds, and a block in 14 minutes per game over the first twenty. However, it’s a bit easier to be spot contributor in the rotation. Pressure comes with expectations. As arguably the third big on the depth chart now, he’ll play an even bigger role this season with the former Bus One Boy moving to Bus Two.

At Media Day, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens hinted at how the team is confident in “players that have been here we don’t talk about a lot” and how Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford “can play with any of our bigs;” that certainly sounds like Luke might have impressed in open gym already. Head coach Joe Mazzulla mentioned that he’s part of a second unit that has stood out so far.

“We’re just ready to compete and we want to compete. We’ve had a great last month in the gym. Guys are ready to play, ready to challenge each other, and ready to take the next step in their games and do it collectively as a team. I think there’s that focus and that energy. It’s a strange thing. It’s just there,” Kornet told of the Auerbach Center workouts so far.

The Celtics invited Wenyen Gabriel to training camp on Sunday to add to their frontcourt depth and there’s some flexibility at the back end with Svi Mykhailiuk, Dalano Banton, Lamar Stevens, and even Kornet on non-guaranteed deals. Kornet has a leg up in terms of depth at his position and corporate knowledge entering his fourth season in Boston.

“I’m just ready to put myself in the best position for us for that day and for that game or if I’m not playing, for whatever the next time for me to be available,” Kornet said of this opportunity. “For me, I’m just looking to do whatever it takes to put our team in the best position to win that day or game or week or whatever the situation is.”

Kornet said that he’s tried to become a better finisher around the rim this summer, more confident in his game, and figuring out ways to accentuate his star teammates. That selfless approach could make him a valuable and necessary part of the Celtics second unit.

“I’ve always just tried to be about really winning and nothing else. That’s kind of your guide that sets everything up for you easily.”

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