Kemba Walker’s arrival in Boston won’t mean much if Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown don’t resume growing as NBA players.
Boston Celtics legend and ESPN NBA analyst Paul Pierce insisted Monday the only way Walker will lead the team to the NBA Finals in his debut season in Boston is if Tatum and Brown blossom into All-Star caliber players. Pierce’s 2019-20 Celtics insight formed the heart of his answer to ESPN’s burning question: “Can Kemba Walker take the Celtics back to the Finals?”
“It will be fun, but their young guys have to get better,” Pierce said. “I mean, we’ve now seen three dynamic point guards come in there in Isaiah Thomas, Irving and now Kemba. They’ve all been successful, but in order for the Celtics to be a better team, the young guys have to get better. Tatum, Brown, they have to turn into all-star caliber players. If they’re able to do that then I think they will have a chance, but if not I think it will be the same as they were last year and the year before.”
While most Boston predictions have it winning around 49 games in the regular season, the same number as in 2018-19, and entering the Eastern Conference playoffs as the third seed, the most bullish Celtics observer believes they’re among the eight teams that have a “legitimate shot” at winning the NBA Finals.
Pierce adds context to that zealous prediction by asserting Brown and Tatum must shine in their third and fourth NBA seasons, respectively, in order for that to happen. Whether it comes to pass remains to be seen, but it appears at this point to be a long-shot at best.