If the Boston Celtics focus on their priorities, they should contend for the next NBA championship.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps ranked the Celtics No. 7 on Monday in his final NBA power rankings of the 2019-20 season. The young Celtics came within two wins of reaching the NBA Finals, and Bontempts reckons they’ll be among the leading contenders to win the Eastern Conference next season if they stay on their current trajectory.
“Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals for the third time in four years but failed to make it back to the NBA Finals after losing to the Miami Heat in six games,” Bontemps wrote. “While most of the team is under contract for next season, the biggest uncertainty is whether Gordon Hayward will opt in to his $34.1 million player option for 2020-21. There isn’t an obvious landing spot for him if he does, but the Heat didn’t look like a landing spot for Jimmy Butler a year ago, either.
“Otherwise, Boston enters the offseason with three first-round picks with which to work. Kemba Walker’s health will be a priority after he dealt with knee issues for all of this calendar year, as will the growth of their two franchise wing players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.”
The Celtics will be among those chasing the Los Angeles Lakers, who secured ESPN’s top ranking Sunday night with a title-clinching win over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Boston trails the third-ranked Milwaukee Bucks among Eastern Conference foes on ESPN’s power rankings. The No. 8 Philadelphia 76ers, No. 9 Heat, No. 10 Brooklyn Nets and No. 11 Toronto Raptors are hot on the Celtics’ heels as the offseason begins.
Although draft picks, trades and other transactions will impact the NBA power rankings before next season begins, the Celtics are well-positioned for success at the close of the marathon 2019-20 campaign.