The 2021-22 Boston Celtics — a team with the potential to pose a threat to the top of the Eastern Conference will be determined to rewrite last year’s .500 regular-season finish.
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Are The Celtics Lacking a ‘Natural Playmaker’?
In reconstructing what’s now a well-balanced roster, the former head coach not only shipped out Kemba Walker, along with his max contract, but he also added versatility to the frontcourt in acquiring Al Horford from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Getting Dennis Schroder to agree to a team-friendly one-year, $5.9 million bargain was the steal of the summer. And, securing a high-level defender in Josh Richardson bodes well for the kind of reconfiguration Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has in store this fall.
Meanwhile, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley isn’t impressed. In his eyes, Stevens failed to address the 2020-21 Celtics’ biggest flaw, which according to Buckley, is passing.
“The 2020-21 Boston Celtics always felt like they were less than the sum of their individual parts,” Buckley wrote. “Their lack of a natural playmaker might have been to blame, as they dished out the sixth-fewest assists per game and had the fifth-fewest secondary assists.”
B/R Writer: Tatum & Brown ‘Evolving Into Better Facilitators is Not The Answer’
Buckley believes relying on All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to evolve into better facilitators is not necessarily the answer to how the Celtics can emerge into championship contenders in 2021-22.
“Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown made strides as table-setters, but it isn’t what they do best,” Buckley added. “The same goes for Kemba Walker, who has always flashed more for his scoring than distributing. Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III shined as passers, but they didn’t get enough touches to make a major impact (both had sub-19 percent usage rates).”
Handing the keys over to veteran Marcus Smart, who inked a fresh four-year extension, worth $77.1 million, this summer, doesn’t mean Boston’s biggest concern last season is solved. However, for the Celtics, it’s not an awful place to start.
“With Walker now out of the equation and Smart poised to take on a greater role, Boston could emerge with better ball movement,” Buckley added. “That rings doubly true if newcomer Dennis Schroder makes as big of an impact with his passing as he does with his scoring.
“Solved? Not necessarily, but should be better.”
Celtics Acquire PF Juancho Hernangomez
In what is most likely one of Stevens’ final moves of the offseason, he failed to reel in an additional facilitator for the Celtics’ backcourt when he sent guards Carsen Edwards and Kris Dunn to the Memphis Grizzlies for five-year veteran Juancho Hernangomez, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
According to Woj, a 2026 second-round pick swap between Boston and Memphis is also included in the deal. Hernangomez, a 6-foot-9 power forward who can stretch the floor with his outside touch, adds depth to the Celtics’ frontcourt.
Although Juancho connected on only 32.7% of his 3-pointers, last season, he also averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 17.3 minutes a game, per BasketballReference.com, for the Grizzlies and could ultimately be an upgrade to Grant Williams’ backup role of last season.