ESPN had Celtics #2 in Power Rankings prior to last season. How did that work out? They are #7-#10 this season. Don’t believe it!
Without boring readers with the various Power Rankings, all of them show Boston well behind both the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76’ers. This is not a major surprise. The Celtics lost their two best players (Al Horford and Kyrie Irving) to free agency, and one of them (Horford) went to the rival 76’ers.
Most of the polls have the Celtics sitting between #7 and #10 in the rankings. Unlike last season, expectations are low. I love that. But what goes unnoticed is that newly-acquired Kemba Walker virtually carried his former team, the Hornets, last season. He led that team in minutes, points, assists, steals and player efficiency rating (PER). He did everything but sell beer at half-time. Expect him to have a major impact on Boston’s success going forward.
Kemba Walker made an appearance at Rucker Park over the weekend. He spoke about why he signed with the Celtics in free agency this summer.https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/ny-kemba-walker-free-agency-celtics-hornets-20190729-sxjcyunt65cjxkbpqj7grpfwxm-story.html …
Kemba Walker says he and the Celtics are ‘a perfect fit’
At Rucker, the community embraced Kemba Walker as if he never left. And he reciprocated the love because, in a way, he’s still there.
Also expect Gordon Hayward to come back strong – and the Jay Team to flourish with Kemba at the helm. The Bucks are rated very high in all Power Rankings, but their success it totally dependent on Giannis Antetokounmpo. I am confident Brad Stevens will find a way to slow him down. Milwaukee is not invulnerable.
And Philly? Who the Hell knows? I don’t. It is strange to see Al Horford’s likeness front-and-CENTER in the photo below. It is also a bit weird for Boston fans to see him in the embrace of a rival team. There is well-based speculation that part of the reason Al went to Philly was to get back to his power forward spot. That may not happen all of the time.
I just have no idea of what to make of this 76’ers starting-5. They have incredible length, but my guess is that even the Philly coaching staff is somewhat confused as to how to employ this crew. At least for last season, Horford was a more efficient scorer than Joel Embiid. Al was 54%/36%/82% on field goals, 3’s and free throws, respectively. Joel was 48%/30%/80% in 2018-19. Al makes for a great stretch-5, but he doesn’t do his best work against the big, bruising centers. Joel is fine in the post. He has both length and toughness, but his outside game is far from complete. And I absolutely doubt that Simmons has found an outside shot this summer.
So the question is, will the 76’ers be a team of misfit pieces or a genuine Title contender? As Celtics fans, we saw a bit of that “misfit pieces” scenario play out last season in Boston. It didn’t work. Plenty of talent, but it was a bad mix.
Ben Simmons is a 6’10” point guard who still has no outside shot. The Celtics did nicely with Al Horford playing point-center. Will he do the same in Philly? How about point-forward? Maybe! At least in theory, Al would fit anywhere. But this 76’ers team is – ummm – different. Did I mention I have no idea of what to make of it.
Prior to the 2018-19 season, the Celts were pegged as the team to beat in the East. That never happened. ESPN has the 76’ers positioned in 4th place in their Power Rankings for 2019-20, with the Celtics ranked at #7. If Philadelphia figures out how to use their motley crew, they could be a menace. But as the above tweet indicates, a team of shooters led by an ace point guard (Celtics) could put an end to any hopes of a team that just seems to consist of pieces that may not function effectively as a unit (sound familiar). Power rankings are based on the skill levels of the individuals that make up the team. ESPN had the Celtics ranked second in Power Rankings, right behind the Warriors at #1, prior to last season. See my point.
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