The Boston Celtics enter their 2022-23 campaign with high expectations after representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, despite their season starting on rocky ground with the suspension to head coach Ime Udoka and the improvements around the league.
The Celtics are among the betting favorites to win the NBA championship and defend their Eastern Conference title — and many Green Teamers believe it to be for good reason. After all, the Celtics are not lacking talent in a talent-driven league, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the charge and Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogdon and others all helping Boston’s overall roster.
With that, we’ve asked our team of NESN Digital “experts” to come up with one prediction for the Celtics this season. The predictions, as you’ll see, are all-encompassing.
Sean McGuire: Jaylen Brown named to All-NBA team for first time
Brown shared how he’s starting the season in the best physical condition of his career, and it probably shouldn’t come as a shock given his well-documented offseason workouts. Brown also should enter the season with plenty of motivation after being involved in Kevin Durant trade rumors, all while creeping closer to his next contract — whether it’s with the Celtics or elsewhere. The Celtics’ two-way standout might have felt a bit slighted after being left off the NBA All-Star team last year, and he now enters his seventh campaign with his ever-evolving game again allowing him to make a massive imprint on Boston’s title chances.
Keagan Stiefel: LeBron James breaks scoring record against Celtics
Let’s do some quick math. LeBron James is only 1,325 points away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 career points. Over the course of his career, James has averaged 27 points per game. If he holds that average, the Lakers superstar would need only two points to break the record heading into Los Angeles’ 50th game of the season. Who does that game come against, you ask? The Celtics at TD Garden on Jan. 28, 2023. If you’re of the same belief, DraftKings Sportsbook has a prop bet about it, with the Celtics’ matchup standing at +650.
Mike Cole: Malcolm Brogdon wins Sixth Man of the Year Award
It’s not exactly going out on a limb — Brogdon is among the betting favorites at 11-1 to win the award at DraftKings Sportsbook — but from what we’ve seen in the preseason, he’s a great fit with this Celtics team. He has said all the right things and at least seems comfortable with his role. He’ll lead that second unit, and he represents such a stark upgrade that his contributions and how he improves the Celtics’ offense will be difficult for voters to ignore.
Ricky Doyle: Celtics trade Danilo Gallinari before he ever plays a game in Boston
It’s unfortunate Gallinari suffered a torn ACL. The veteran forward seemed like a good fit — on and off the court — and would have been a nice addition to Boston’s bench. But now, his season likely is over. And there will come a point where the Celtics need to bolster their frontcourt, with Gallinari’s contract being a piece Brad Stevens can include in a deal. Tough business.
Greg Dudek: Sam Hauser becomes key rotation player
Boston has been in need of a pure shooter for years now, and it seems it has one in Hauser. Hauser won’t just be some preseason wonder, as he will make a real impact in real games. And if Malcolm Brogdon ever gets moved into the starting lineup, Hauser will be the top player off the bench for the Celtics.
Jason Ounpraseuth: Celtics trade Grant Williams
The Celtics and Williams haven’t agreed to an extension yet, and it’s likely the fourth-year forward is hoping to get more minutes if he signs a new deal with Boston. What doesn’t get talked about, however, is how Williams was phased out in the NBA Finals. The Warriors feasted on mismatches, and it showed Williams is limited in his skill set. While he can certainly get better, I don’t see it with Williams.
Liam Barrett: Derrick White gets phased out of the lineup and possibly traded before the deadline
Since trading for the White in February, the veteran guard has been lackluster outside of a few postseason games. During his five seasons in San Antonio, White averaged 11.6 points per game on 45% from the floor and 34% from 3-point range. After being traded to Boston, all of those numbers dropped — 11.0 points, 40% from the field and 31% from long range. And during the playoffs, those numbers continued to dip, as White posted just 8.5 points on 31% from beyond the arc and 36% from the field. If White’s shooting efficiency and overall floor presence continue to regress to start the campaign, we could see his minutes begin to fade.