Thursday, May 21, 2020

Former Boston Celtics Horford, Irving, Morris and Rozier are gone. Did Danny Ainge fill that void?

The Boston Celtics rebuild is underway, and boss Danny Ainge us doing it on the fly. He certainly was busy the past several months! But how does he fill the void left by the departures of Kyrie Irving, Al Hordford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. That foursome accounted for an awful lot of points, playmaking, rebounding and defense – and quite a bit of controversy.

Kemba Walker may not be quite up to Irving’s level on skills, but his attitude may close most, or all, of that gap. Enes Kanter puts everything he has into his play, but it will never measure up to what Al contributed to the Celtics’ cause. Look for Brad Stevens to institute a center-by-committee strategy and use Kanter, Vincent Poirier, Rob Williams and Daniel Theis in situations that utilize, and maximize, their individual skills. This season will be one of experimentation.

You want rim protection, get Rob in there. Inside scoring and rebounding? Call on Kanter and Poirier. For perimeter defense and outside scoring, Theis gets the call. The 5-spot questions will get resolved as the season progresses.

For the longer view, here come the rookies – Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Tremont Waters. Waters is on a 2-way deal with Boston, and there is always a chance that he could grab that 15th roster slot with the Celtics. I am excited about seeing Edwards take the parquet. Could he flop at the NBA level? Sure, he could, but I doubt he will. He has Rozier-like talent and scores from everywhere.

We still don’t have any idea what the Celtics have in Langford, but the mystery will start to unravel soon. He has been cleared for action, and his hand injury is in the past. At 6’6″, he may project as a 3-position player with Boston, and he will be part of Stevens’ experiment that will start in training camp. Williams seems an ideal fit for Boston because of his versatile game and already looking like a glue-guy-in-the-making. This is how NBA.Com’s Shaun Powell views the rookies’ impact this season and beyond:

If Ainge and his scouting department were correct, then in time, Edwards, Langford and Williams will help nullify the impact of the defections from the rotation.

Horford is the biggest loss for the Celtics, and I hated to see him go. Our sorrow over that loss may soon be forgotten if Kemba steps right in and takes control with his team-first play, and at least one of the rookies has a significant impact early in the season. By mid-season, it would be great to be saying, “Void? What void?”

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel and @_Celtics_Center

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