Brian Windhorst wrote an interesting article today. He talked about the fact that the Celtics may need one more center to reach Banner 18. The Boston Celtics are currently the best team in the East with a record of 11-2 and arguably are playing better basketball than anyone else. When you look up and down the roster, most of the questionable qualities about the Celtics coming into the year have been answered. Is Gordon Hayward back? You bet ya! How would Kemba Walker fit into the offense? The ball movement is off the charts excellent. Would Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum take the leap forward? So far, it looks that way. The most questionable characteristic that hasn’t necessarily been answered is the Celtics’ big man rotation. I’m here to tell you that the Celtics don’t need another big man.
Good riddance, Al Horford. Thus far, Horford is a much less efficient player with the 76ers. Horford also can’t rebound a lick for his size. Enes Kanter has proved to be a much better fit. Kanter has always been one of the best rebounders and especially offensive rebounders in the sport. He can also stretch the floor and hit the occasional 3. Kanter is known for being a poor defender. Boston is the only team in the NBA who is top 7 in total offense and defense. Kanter’s defense hasn’t killed them. The Celtics have gone with a bunch of small lineups. Often times Marcus Smart has been tasked with guarding centers and he does it magnificently. Kanter doesn’t have to be brilliant defensively. Marcus Smart does and he’s doing it marvelously.
Boston has two other options. Daniel Theis is undersized but he’s a plus on the offensive end spreading out the floor. Robert Williams has made a big impact blocking shots and catching lobs looking like a young DeAndre Jordan. We haven’t seen a ton of Grant Williams yet but he looks NBA ready and is capable of running the 5 at those small ball lineups. Semi Ojeleye is a more jacked but maybe lower ceiling clone of Grant Williams. Let’s also not forget Vincent Poirier and Tacko Fall are also on the roster. Poirier isn’t a household name but he did start overseas and make an impact. Tacko Fall can be effective for 10 minutes a night. No reason why he can’t. Add it all up and why do the Celtics need another center?
Boston doesn’t have room on the roster to add another big guy. This is one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Have you seen Javonte Green play? That dude can really ball. Brad Wanamaker is proving his worth as a backup swing guard. Carsen Edwards is going to be a great sparkplug off the bench. Who are you dumping? So far, this jigsaw puzzle is meshing perfectly. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The Warriors for years and years won titles with JaVale McGee and small ball lineups. Why can’t the Celtics do the same? The center position is becoming less and less important. Teams that have invested big dollars in the position haven’t gotten very far. Some examples include the Jazz with Gobert, the Pistons with Andre Drummond, the Heat with Hassan Whiteside. You can get by with having a revolving door at the position. In fact, I’d argue that it’s the smarter route to go.
Here’s the other issue. Go to the trade machine and find me the deal that makes sense. Find me the trade that makes the Celtics better. I don’t think one exists. The Celtics don’t have any bad contracts on the books. You’re not trading Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart or Kemba Walker. Take those guys away and the next highest cap number is $5 million who belongs to Daniel Theis. Next is Enes Kanter who sits at $4.8. If the Celtics are trying to strengthen that unit, they aren’t getting traded either. You’re left with Romeo Langford who actually is proving to be expendable. Langford has no role and the team and has played mostly in the G League as the 14th pick in the draft. The problem is matching his $3.5 million salary in a trade that makes sense while not giving up on a lottery pick too soon. Yeah, good luck.
At that point, why not roll with more minutes for Robert Williams? Joel Embiid is a problem for this Celtics team. We know that. However, find me a solution that makes sense. Aron Baynes would look great back in a Celtics uniform. Maybe you can beg the Suns to buy him out. The Celtics are winning games without a high profile center and don’t have the direct route to acquire one. This is the group. The Celtics don’t need another big man.