The Boston Celtics likely will be blander in 2019-20 than they were last season.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe ranked the Celtics 15th in his NBA League Pass rankings, which seek to measure the association’s 30 teams in terms of watchability. After ranking second in Lowe’s 2018 NBA League Pass rankings, the Celtics have fallen dramatically due to last season’s underwhelming displays and their subsequent loss of star power.
“Boston drops 13 spots despite replacing a frowny-faced philosopher-point guard (Kyrie Irving) with a rough stylistic equivalent in Kemba Walker — owner of the league’s nastiest in-and-out dribble,” Lowe writes. “The combined departures — Al Horford’s subtle brilliance, Marcus Morris’ toughness, Terry Rozier’s long 2s, Guerschon Yabusele’s a– — cannot inflict this much damage on Boston’s watchability.
“But last season’s Celtics were never as watchable as the algorithm predicted,” he adds. “… There is hope Boston can settle into a watchability zone between this ranking and last season’s. The chemistry presumably isn’t toxic now. Gordon Hayward should be closer to Utah form. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are hungry. One or both could make All-Star pushes; Tatum looks to be attacking the rim more already. His reclining, willowy mid-rangers are basketball grace notes, analytics be damned.
“The Timelord — Robert Williams III — adds a vertical athleticism Boston has not had in a while. Tacko Fall looms. The trimmings are as good as it gets: the green uniforms (perhaps the best in U.S. sports history), the parquet, the sonorous Mike Gorman, Tommy Heinsohn’s hoarse homerism in the Johnny Most tradition.”
The Celtics scored 31 points on Lowe’s watchability metrics, which include their place in the “zeitgeist,” their “highlight potential,” their playing “style,” their “League Pass minutiae” of the look and feel of their broadcasts and their unintentional-comedy factor.
Although the Celtics might lack top-level stars and the corresponding attention, nothing will entertain Boston fans, and perhaps neutrals, too, like winning does.