Oh to be as optimistic about the new-look Boston Celtics as Kendrick Perkins.
The former Celtics center predicted Friday on ESPN’s “First Take” Boston will be one of the best, if not the best, team in the Eastern Conference in 2021-22. Perkins believes a healthy and continuously improving Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will lead the Celtics’ rebound from a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.
“They’re going to be a top-five team in the Eastern Conference,” Perkins said. “You know why? Because when Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are healthy, they’re arguably a top-five, if not a top-three, duo in the NBA. And you can go check the numbers. They didn’t really get a fair opportunity to play with each other. You have Jayson Tatum, who was dealing with COVID issues, who was out. You have Jaylen Brown, who was dealing with knee issues, wrist injuries and things of that nature. So we only got to see a small sample size of this dynamic duo together.
“But when they’re on the court, you talk about a position that general managers and coaches are begging and looking for on a day-to-day basis: that wing position, that combo-guard position. Both of these guys have zero flaws offensively, both of those guys buckle down when it comes down to the defensive side of things, both of these guys are under the age of 25.
“Jayson Tatum has already arrived. Jaylen Brown continues to keep getting better every single year. Jaylen “Underappreciated” Brown. This Boston Celtics team, with a few minor additions, they might be the top team in the Eastern Conference come next year.”
Perkins offered this curiously bullish prediction hours after the Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder made a blockbuster trade, which sent Kemba Walker and draft picks to OKC in exchange for Al Horford, Moses Brown and picks.
Walker’s departure impacts Boston’s roster and salary-cap situations dramatically, and further transactions are destined to take place.
Although we don’t know exactly what those will be, the presences of NBA All-Star forwards in Brown and Tatum fill Perkins with optimism that good times will return soon.