The Boston Celtics training camp is underway at the Red Auerbach Center. A year after winning just one playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics are gearing up for what could be a more rewarding NBA campaign.
Boston made some significant changes to the entire organization, so it will be interesting to see how the maneuvers will work out as they begin another quest for banner #18.
The Boston Celtics have their work cut out for them as the elite teams in the East have also made roster changes to be even stronger than before.
With the way the Eastern Conference is built, defending champions Milwaukee Bucks and the star-studded Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to come out of the region. If new head coach Ime Udoka can maximize the potential of the Celtics, the team may emerge as a legit threat to vie for the NBA crown.
Boston Celtics' roster moves so far in the 2021-22 NBA season
Brad Stevens hired Ime Udoka as his replacement to mold the Boston Celtics into championship contenders. Udoka brings defensive mentality, grit and hard-nosed competitiveness to his repertoire. He will most likely elevate the Celtics' defensive mindset and bring in better defensive ratings.
After failing to reach an agreement to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dennis Schroder settled for a one-year contract with the Boston Celtics worth $5.9 million. Schroder's inclusion will add scoring and playmaking to this roster. He can play at the point guard position or he can slot in at the two-spot. Schroder brings another element of versatility to this lineup.
Josh Richards, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks, is a utility player with high defensive upside. He posted solid numbers playing next to Luka Doncic last year and is expected to do the same for the Boston Celtics. The tandem of Marcus Smart and Richards is bound to cause problems against the NBA's starting backcourts.
The frontcourt is where the Boston Celtics brought in a lot of help. Topping the list is Al Horford, who is back for another go-around with the Cs. He is a reliable shooter with solid defensive instincts. This young Celtics team could use Horford's leadership and veteran presence as soon as the season starts.
Enes Kanter is a fan-favorite who will shore up the frontcourt. He is an excellent rebounder who does what the team asks of him.
Former Atlanta Hawks big man Bruno Fernando is firmly lodged in the Boston Celtics' back end of the rotation. He will most likely play when the games are already decided.
Juancho Hernangomez is an intriguing addition to the team. The former first-round pick is good enough to play the 4 and 3 spots based on matchups. He could be a useful ace in Ime Udoka's sleeve.
Sam Hauser was signed for wing depth. After his solid stint in the Summer League, he is on a two-way contract with the Celtics this season.
Important storylines for the Boston Celtics training camp
1. Is Jaylen Brown healthy?
The Boston Celtics will need a fully fit Jaylen Brown to challenge the top teams in the East. After a career year that included an All-Star Game appearance, a fully healthy JB could become an even better player for the Celtics this season.
Together with Jayson Tatum, they form an athletic and skilled combo that is as good as any in the league. Jaylen Brown firing on all cylinders elevates the ceiling of this Boston Celtics team.
2. Who plays the starting center for the Boston Celtics?
One of the most anticipated storylines is the battle between Al Horford and Robert Williams for the starting center position. The former was the Celtics' starting center for a couple of years before he was traded to Philadelphia, while the latter played the same role for much of the second half of the season last year.
Both slot men are quite versatile and would also be potent as a two-big combo.
3. How does Ime Udoka shuffle his lineup?
Brad Stevens is a huge fan of versatility, and the roster he built personifies it. Ime Udoka has at his disposal a collection of players who can play fast or big on any given night.
The team has a bevy of high IQ guys with the kind of athleticism that allows them to work in the post or roam in the perimeter. It will be interesting to see how Udoka tinkers with this lineup to maximize its promise.
4. Will Marcus Smart start at point guard?
Ime Udoka has stated that he wants the ball in Marcus Smart's hands more. Smart also stressed during the Celtics media day that he is a natural point guard. For much of his career, though, he has played the two spot to defer to the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.
How well Smart runs point for the offense will determine if Udoka will indeed entrust the keys of the Celtics engine to him.
Predicted starting lineup for the Boston Celtics heading into the 2021-22 NBA season
The training camp could define how Ime Udoka lines up his charges for the coming season.
Udoka could potentially roll out Smart, Richards, Brown, Tatum and Williams as his starting five. Having Richards and Smart on the backcourt to start games set the tone defensively for the Celtics. With the two hounding the perimeter and Williams manning the paint, the defensive identity of the Celtics could right away be their calling card. Tatum and Brown make the Celtics tough to beat every time they are available.
Here's the predicted starting lineup for the Boston Celtics:
Point Guard – Marcus Smart | Shooting Guard – Josh Richards | Small Forward – Jaylen Brown | Power Forward – Jayson Tatum | Center – Robert Williams