Celtics season preview: Are they better or worse without Brad Stevens?


Celtics season preview: Are they better or worse without Brad Stevens?

* They’re still incredibly young… It feels like we’ve been talking about this forever. But both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two of the best in the league when it comes to guys who are under 25 years old. To put this into necessary perspective, Tatum is currently the same age as Sacramento Kings rookie guard Davion Mitchell while Brown is the same age as first-year Indiana Pacers wing Chris Duarte. Tatum and Brown, however, already have a combined nine years of professional experience. That will obviously be invaluable when it comes to learning from their mistakes earlier in their careers. But they are both still developing and have young legs.

* They can create their own shot… Boston averaged 20.7 points per game on their jump shots taken off the dribble, per Synergy, which ranked as the best mark in the Eastern Conference. Kyrie Irving is the only player in the conference who outscored Tatum on these opportunities. The Celtics also connected on 5.0 pull-up three-pointers per game, via NBA.com, which was the highest among all teams in the East as well. Although they lost two players (Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier) who were able to create for themselves off the bounce, they should still thrive off Tatum’s presence alone.

* Boston was excellent at second-chance opportunities… Last season, per 100 possessions, the Celtics averaged 11.7 second-chance opportunities. That trailed just the New Orleans Pelicans for the most in the league, according to PBPStats. Their overall offensive rebound percentage (28.9 percent) was the best in the East. Next season, this could be even higher as they will have Enes Kanter return to their rotation. Kanter has recorded an offensive rebound percentage that has ranked in the 95th percentile or better in each of the past seven seasons, via Cleaning the Glass. He leads all players in second-chance points per 100 possessions (14.08) since the big man first entered the NBA in 2011-12.

* A new head coach could give them a new spark… Udoka has spoken about bringing the “dog” mentality out of all the players on his roster. That should resonate well with guys like Marcus Smart, who is one of the toughest players in the league. Udoka is known for accountability and that should be crucial for a team that felt, at times, complacent.