Last season for the Boston Celtics was a major disappointment, but I doubt we will have a repeat. Kyrie Irving has been ably-replaced by Kemba Walker, and the center position has taken on a whole new look. One positive factor for Boston for the coming season is as close-to-guaranteed as it gets. The quartet occupying the 5-spot will be a major improvement in the rebounding department, especially on the offensive end.
In the 2018-19 season, the Celtics finished the regular season ranked 22nd in rebounding, averaging 44.5 RPG. Al Horford is off to the rival 76’ers, and he was the Celts main board guy, averaging 6.7 rebounds per game, with 1.7 coming off the offensive glass. Al ranked 45th in the NBA in this specific category during the regular season. Newly-acquired Enes Kanter finished last season ranked 14th in rebounding with 9.8 RPG, 3.8 of which were of the offensive variety (per NBA’s Taylor C. Snow):
In 20 career matchups against the C’s, Kanter has averaged 12.9 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while seeing 23.2 minutes of action. That includes 12.1 RPG over the past two seasons, during which he faced the C’s nine times. (His rebounding average per 36 minutes over that span was 18.6!)
Specifically, Kanter has excelled on the offensive glass. He has finished among the top three in offensive rebounding percentage during each of the past five seasons, while twice owning the No. 1 rate in the league (2015-16, 2017-18). That’s good news for a Celtics franchise that hasn’t seen a player finish among the top three in that department in more than 40 years.
French import, Vincent Poirier, spent last season overseas in the Euroleague. He led the League in total rebounds (8.3 RPG) and offensive boards (3.4/game). We don’t yet know how Poirier’s skills will translate to the NBA, but expect a lot of second-chance points from these two big men as they attack the offensive glass.
Third-year man, Daniel Theis, is no slouch off the boards. In his first season in Boston, prior to his meniscus injury, he averaged 4.3 rebounds per game in only 14.9 minutes of action, which projects to 10.5 RPG on a per-36-minutes basis. In his rookie season, Rob Williams snagged a lot of boards simply on his length and athleticism. Once he learns to be more aggressive, he could be a terror as a fierce rebounder and rim protector.
So the Celts will have a new look in this upcoming rebound season. I expect Kanter to set the tone for aggression on the offensive glass, and others will follow his lead. Also expect more points to come on lobs and put-backs. Count me as one that would love to see the 3-point attempts get squashed at least a little bit. And how about Tacko Fall you may ask. If ever I saw potential as an offensive rebounder, it is this Green Giant. With a standing reach of 10’2″, many errant shots may fall (no pun) right into his hands. If he follows the example of former Celtic, Kevin McHale, and keeps that ball high, the little guys can’t get it and put-backs are a breeze. Of course, he needs to make the regular roster first. That is another story.