The loss of Al Horford leaves Boston with a difficult void to fill. The versatile big man did a little bit of everything for the Celtics, but Danny Ainge and the Boston front office was forced to try and replace him.
Well shortly after his departure, the Celtics went out and solidified their frontcourt, agreeing to deals with former Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter and Frenchman Vincent Poirier, while re-signing Daniel Theis to a two-year contract.
So what will Kanter and Poirier bring to Boston?
Kanter’s signing was met with some concern due to his lack of defensive prowess, and that was justified. The Turkish big man would be the first to tell you he’s not a defensive-minded center. But Kanter certainly does his best to make up for it on the other end.
The 27-year-old is great on the glass, which is an area the Celtics have struggled in over the last few years. Kanter should be one of the better rebounders Brad Stevens has had in Boston. He averaged 9.8 boards per game in 67 games combined last season with the Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks.
At 6-foot-11, he’s solid around the rim and moves well in the paint. Kanter shot 54.9 percent from the floor last year with most of those buckets coming close to the basket. It’ll be nice for Boston to have a reliable, consistent interior scorer. He should pair well with the Celtics backcourt, specifically in pick-and roll situations. Another thing he does that Boston hasn’t excelled at in year’s past? He gets to the free throw line.
But yes, he does struggle on the defensive end, often getting caught in switches and in between defenders due to a lack of awareness. Teams will target him, especially if they have a big who can stretch the floor, which is pretty common in the NBA these days. It’ll be interesting to see what Stevens can draw up to try and work around those mismatches.
Poirier isn’t necessarily a defensive star himself, but the 25-year old will help provide some rim protection to go along with some solid versatility. He worked a decent amount in pick-and-roll schemes in Euroleague last season, but still will need to work into a role where he’s consistently comfortable there.
For someone who began playing basketball at the age of 17, Poirier is impressively far along. His development shows off that versatility, which Stevens and the Celtics’ staff will take full advantage of. Expect him to assist a bit on the defensive side, while providing a nice option on offense. If he continues to trend in the right direction and improve his lateral movement, Poirier quickly could become Boston’s best roll man.
So yes, the Celtics’ frontcourt has a new look to it, but there is plenty of versatility and plenty of intrigue.
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