Fantasy Basketball: 2019 Boston Celtics Preview

The Celtics have enjoyed four straight winning seasons, with the trend likely continuing this season despite losing several key pieces. Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Morris all bolted for greener pastures. These may seem like a devastating losses, but opportunities are now present for young guns Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to step up and take their games to the next level. Gordon Hayward is another year removed from his gruesome injury and should be a bounce back candidate. Oh, and the additions of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter don’t hurt either. The Celts did some addition by subtraction, and are primed to challenge for the Eastern Conference title yet again.

Enes Kanter’s talks Knicks and James Dolan

Former Knicks big man Enes Kanter said on Sunday that players he talks to around the league are simply scared of owner James Dolan, and don’t want to take a chance playing for his team:

“Not many people know that, but players talk. From different teams, they talk,” Kanter said on Bleacher Report’s The Full 48 podcast. “I’m not blaming anybody. I had an amazing time with the Knicks. But other teammates that I talked to or if they’re on different teams, they always said, ‘Amazing city, MSG is amazing everything is so good, but the ownership.’ They would just keep saying, ‘But the ownership.’ … Some of the players I guess are just scared to come here and don’t even want to deal with that.

On the other hand, Enes Kanter spent a good portion of the past two seasons with the New York Knicks but became a villain on Monday night.  

In an appearance prior to WWE’s Monday Night Raw, Kanter did enter the ring in a blue jumpsuit that resembled the Knicks colors. But then, in true heel fashion, he unzipped his jacket and revealed that he was wearing his new No. 11 Boston Celtics jersey.  He was greeted with a rousing amount of boos throughout.

Enes had a segment with 24/7 champion R-Truth. The NBA big man hit the WWE superstar with a clubbing right hand and pinned R-Truth to become the new 24/7 champ. While Kanter was hoisting the championship in his new colors, R-Truth rolled Kanter up and received a three-count to win his championship back.

Jaylen Brown’s Play For Team USA Could Dramatically Increase His FA Stock

Jaylen Brown has stepped up for USA Basketball during international play and the 22-year-old is showcasing growth in his game at a time when it’s most critical. The former No. 3 overall pick has just one season left on his rookie-scale deal with the Celtics and his play in China may provide a blueprint for how he can answer some of the remaining questions about his game.

Brown is an athletic talent with obvious weaknesses capping his potential. Shot-creation and play-making haven’t been his calling card since coming into the league out of the University of California. During his 222 career NBA games, he’s only recorded five assists on one occasion (1/16/18 vs. the Pelicans) and while his usage increased last season, it correlated with a slight dip in player efficiency rating.

As I previously wrote for Hoops Rumors, many executives around the league aren’t overly concerned with the risk of signing Brown to a long-term deal despite the perception that he’ll never develop into one of the top players on a contending team. However, while he may have a safe floor; his perceived limited ceiling may adversely impact him in negotiations on his next contract.

Brown’s play for Team USA could be the catalyst that allows him to elevate his status in the league. He’s increased his role since Jayson Tatum went down with an ankle injury, showcasing play-making ability from a different position than he’s accustomed to playing: the power forward position.

In just 26 minutes against Brazil, Brown recorded four assists while adding 11 points, four rebounds, and three steals. Coach Gregg Popovich recently praised Brown for his versatile game as a small-ball four.

“[Brown is] a strong player. For his size and strength, he moves well,” Popovich told reporters after USA’s win over Brazil (via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports). “He can really penetrate. He can catch and pull, or get to the rim … He works on defense. He’s just kind of an all-around player. He’s stepped in and given us good minutes on both ends of the floor for sure.”

Coach Brad Stevens hasn’t played Brown at power forward much since the 6’7″ wing came into the league. With Marcus Morris residing in Boston, there wasn’t much of a need. Brown didn’t see any action there last season and spent just 3% of his minutes at the four during the 2017-18 season, per Basketball Reference. However, Morris has departed in free agency. Al Horford is no longer around to periodically steal minutes at the four and the Celtics’ roster lacks a proven option at power forward.

Brown’s long-term fit in Boston could be as a small-ball four in Stevens’ offense. Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward are arguably best-suited on the wing and assuming Hayward returns close to his peak form (still an if), Brown at the four may be the only way to get the Celtics’ five best players on the floor at the same time.

Brown is currently eligible for a rookie-scale extension and whether he signs that deal now or waits until he’s a restricted free agency next summer, predicting the figures on a new contract is no easy task. There isn’t expected to be many top players on the free agent market next July, which is something that will help Brown’s camp in negotiations. Carrying over his international success at the four spot could be another factor.

It’s unclear exactly how the Celtics will integrate all of their new parts this upcoming season or if Brown’s international play will impact Stevens’ plan for the rotation. The coach spent time with USA Basketball earlier in the summer and remains a “cheerleader from afar.” Like many, Stevens believes the offseason tournaments benefit player development.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2019-20 NBA season are critical periods for Brown, who has until October 21 to reach an agreement on an extension with the Celtics. Perhaps his evolution to play-making, small-ball four could be another example of how a summer of international basketball can help a player realize all of his potential.

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Team USA upset with Antetokounmpos after foul

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Members of Team USA and Greece had to be separated after the FIBA game today. USA players, especially Jaylen Brown, were furious about the late foul by Thanasis Antetokounmpo on Harrison Barnes. 

The teams didn’t have the traditional postgame handshake. USA coach Gregg Popovich gathered his team on the floor to allow the Greeks to leave so the two teams wouldn’t meet in the tunnel.

“Yeah, I said something to Giannis. Well, Giannis said something to me,” Jaylen Brown said. “But we’ve got bigger fish to fry. So we move on.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo declined to talk to the media after the game.

Barnes, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds, was uninjured.

“The game was over; probably a frustration play,” Barnes said. “Apologies only go so far. If I don’t get up and something would’ve happened, apologies aren’t going to help us in the next game. Luckily everything is all good.”

The United States is now on the brink of securing the top spot in Group K following this 69-53 victory over Greece at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The United States (4-0, eight points) is the only undefeated team in Group K and will secure a spot in the knockout phase with one more win.

Sources: Kaiser Gates, Celtics Agree to Training Camp Deal

The Boston Celtics are signing former Xavier forward Kaiser Gates to a training camp contract to compete for the 15th roster spot along with Tacko Fall and others, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. The Boston Celtics are signing former Xavier forward Kaiser Gates to a training camp contract to compete for the 15th roster spot […]

Boston Celtics Young Core is CRAZY! ☘️ FIBA World Cup Highlights

Four members of the Boston Celtics have been getting reps in prior to the start of the 2019-20 NBA season. Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker are in China for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where they’ve propelled Team USA to a 3-0 record.

Jaylen Brown put up a 20-piece in a 98-45 rout over Turkey earlier this morning. Walker, the C’s newest member, had 15 points and dropped 8 dimes.

Check out some other highlights from Team USA.

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