The Boston Celtics are back.
And they look a heck of a lot different than when we last saw them.
From the roster, to the coaching staff, to the front office, the Celtics underwent an overhaul this offseason. They return some familiar faces, but otherwise there is a lot of change and, thus, many questions.
Here are six that need answering this season.
What will the rotation look like?
There are so many new pieces, and it already sounds like Ime Udoka is amenable to a rotation that varies in size. The regulars are predictable and unsurprising, but it’s filling out the margins where things are more up for grabs. Jabari Parker, Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, Juancho Hernangomez and Enes Kanter are all guys who seem like they could be in and out of the rotation.
How will Ime Udoka differ from Brad Stevens?
Stevens wasn’t necessarily rigid, but he most certainly had a way he liked things done and not done. That’s not to say Udoka will fly by the seat of his pants, but it will be fascinating to see what ways he likes to go away from what the Celtics did with Stevens on the bench. Could they play double-bigs more often, or lean less on their guards for rebounding? All possibilities. It might not be a sharp contrast but there will be ways Udoka breaks from the Stevens mold.
Can Robert Williams stay healthy and make a jump?
Williams is on the precipice of being one of the more effective big men in the NBA, as evidenced by the contract the Celtics just gave him. But the only thing that seems to have hindered his growth thus far is struggles staying healthy. Should he be able to log in the neighborhood of 82 games this season, one has to think he’ll be able to make a leap.
Are the Celtics able to hang around with the bona fide contenders?
It’s tough to set expectations for the Celtics because of all the changes, but make no mistake, Boston is not in a rebuild and expects to finish better than it did last season. How the Celtics play against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets (both of whom they play in November) should help pinpoint where exactly they are at.
Will Jayson Tatum continue to blossom?
There’s no more “Tatum is great, but Kemba Walker (or Kyrie Irving) is the guy,” anymore. If Tatum is truly one of the game’s premier players, this is the year to show it. The Celtics are going all-in on Tatum being the guy, and understandably so. But he will have to continue getting better and taking over games in order for the Celtics to truly become one of the conference’s top teams.
How will Jaylen Brown bounce back from his wrist injury?
It has been a while since we’ve seen Brown play, and wrist injuries are a challenging thing for basketball players to come back from. Further, he just dealt with a bout of COVID-19, which has shown it can slow athletes down for a little while. If Tatum is Batman, Brown is his Robin, and the Celtics so desperately need him to be a legit No. 2 option. A lot of his success this season feels like it is predicated on how his wrist fares.