The 2019–20 NBA season will be the 74th season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The regular season will begin on October 22, 2019, and will end on April 15, 2020. The playoffs will begin on April 18, 2020, and will end with the NBA Finals on June 2020. The 2020 NBA All-Star Game will be played on February 16, 2020, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. On October 22, the Toronto Raptors, who are the defending champions, will host the championship ring ceremony. They will play against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Scotiabank Arena. Los Angeles Clippers will host the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. Here’s our 2019-20 NBA Season preview for all 30 NBA teams. If you’re looking for some free NBA predictions then please visit NBA betting tips.

LA Clippers Season Preview

LA Clippers 2019-20 NBA Season Preview
LA Clippers 2019-20 NBA Season Preview

 

On the eve of a 2019-20 NBA Season in which the Clippers are among the favourites to win the title. Many had already been projecting their own meaning onto the blank slate. Months later, it’s still rather remarkable how the Clippers won 48 games and won on the Golden State Warriors’ home floor in the playoffs. They traded their leading scorer and arguably their best player (Tobias Harris) at the deadline and never missed a beat. Lou Williams took over the role of a premier scorer in the clutch and coach Doc Rivers got the most out of a roster that lacked an All-Star.

LA Clippers 2019-20

The Clippers shocked the NBA world in free agency when they not only landed the most coveted free agent in Kawhi Leonard but also traded for Paul George on the same night. They gave up a small fortune to do so, sending promising point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, five first-round picks and the right to two more first-round pick swaps to Oklahoma City for George in order to convince Leonard to sign. It will be a small price to pay, though, if Leonard and George can take the Clippers to the NBA Finals. Lawrence Frank and his talented staff also made an underrated move in adding Maurice Harkless to a team already filled with grinders who know their role and love to defend. Rookie Terance Mann has impressed in camp thus far and could see consistent minutes at the point.

LA Clippers Season Key POINTS

1. Defence spoke here. It goes without saying the Clippers will be elite defensively, and maybe historically so. Leonard and George can guard multiple positions, offer help off the ball and can check the toughest assignments man-to-man. Add Patrick Beverley and this will be something to behold.

2. In triple-threat position. The Clippers have three players — Leonard, George and Williams — who averaged at least 20 points last season. Assuming they’re capable of doing that again, the Clippers will boast the level of firepower that few if any teams can match. They’ll be a handful with the game on the line.

3. Big man, big load. Although he surrenders about three or four inches to the biggest centres, Montrezl Harrell plays much taller than his 6-foot-8. He led the team in fourth-quarter minutes last season and will most likely be the late-game centre again.

LA Clippers 2019-20 big question: Keeping PG and Kawhi healthy

If Paul George and Kawhi Leonard can’t stay on the court, the Clippers will disappoint. They won 48 games without them last season–no small feat–but in order to add those two this summer, the Clippers had to part ways with their prize starting point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and their best player, Danilo Gallinari. The Clippers have a remarkable depth to handle load management, but they don’t have the top-level talent to endure games when both of their star wings are out.

Leonard and the Raptors load-managed their way through the regular season to save him for a long playoff run. The Clippers have been cautious with Leonard in the preseason, and that shouldn’t change when the games start to matter. There’s also the issue of George’s surgically repaired shoulders, although Rivers said the All-Star looked great while working out on the side during camp. No matter when George returns, it’s likely the Clippers will also play things safe with their other All-Star forward.

LA Clippers Season Watch Out

What remains to be seen, though, is how long it’ll take to get to that point. George will be missing at least the first 10 games of the season, and still hasn’t practised with any contact. Unfortunately for the Clippers, their first 10 games of the season are against 8 playoff teams; only two of their first games are against sub-500 teams. There is a legitimate chance of the Clippers having a very rocky start to the season.

Los Angeles Lakers 2019 Season Preview

La Lakers 2019-20 NBA season preview

The Los Angeles Lakers put an actual team together this offseason and will enter the fray with a cast that includes another superstar (Anthony Davis), willing defenders and a complement of shooters. Frank Vogel replaced Walton as a coach and brings the experience that Walton lacked (and the Lakers’ front office craved) … DeMarcus Cousins suffered a torn left ACL during summer workouts and, coupled with his repaired Achilles, you wonder if this is it for the former All-Star … The Lakers addressed their shooting need, signing Danny Green, Jared Dudley and Troy Daniels.

Los Angeles Lakers Key POINTS

1. Under royal protection. The Lakers invented the term “load management” and they’ll most likely apply it extensively this season, definitely with regard to LeBron. His minutes will be watched closely as the Lakers certainly can’t afford another mishap if they have any plans to compete for a title.

2. True point guard role. Vogel would be wise to take the ball out of LeBron’s hands and give it to Rajon Rondo. It’s too much of a chore at this stage to ask LeBron to be all things, and anyway, Rondo has the respect of LeBron. Rondo also played alongside Davis two seasons ago in New Orleans. Besides, what else is Rondo gonna do?

3. The Kuz cruise. Expect LeBron and Davis to give Kyle Kuzma plenty of room and opportunity to shine. It’s in their best interest to let Kuzma grow and gain confidence, rather than have him develop a “third-wheel” mentality (even if, technically, that’s what he is). At some point in the postseason, they’ll need him.

Los Angeles Lakers 2019 Season X-Factor

One of the many things the Lakers lacked last season (aside from health, front-office leadership, camaraderie and offence) was shooting. Take your pick as to which player will step up and become the unforeseen indispensable player of note. Danny Green is someone who can do it all. But I love Green for the fact that he is coming off a season when he shot 45.5% from distance. Sharing the floor with both Davis and LeBron as one of the starters means plenty of open shots and ample opportunity to prove his worth on both ends of the court.

Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Milwaukee Bucks 2019-20 nba season preview

Milwaukee is clearly a better team and could easily win 60 games this 2019-20 NBA Season. Although they don’t have the same amount of top-end talent as some other teams, their pieces fit a lot smoother. The Bucks take a micro approach to a macro task, tackling the season as a succession of building and leaning on good habits. That’s how they’ll handle it again this season, with the bonus of knowing how much gas to leave in the tank for an extended postseason run.

Malcolm Brogdon was the biggest loss of the Bucks’ offseason. The 2017 Rookie of the Year, who was a restricted free agent, signed with Indiana after the Bucks’ front office declined to match the Pacers’ $85 million offer. Milwaukee replaced Brogdon with Wesley Matthews. After summer signings, the Bucks’ roster boasts two sets of brothers: Thanasis and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook and Robin Lopez. The Bucks also re-signed backup guard George Hill, who was a key bench player for Milwaukee in the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks Season Key POINTS

1. Rivals won’t like Giannis’ math.

In winning the 2019 MVP, Antetokounmpo estimated that he had tapped only about 60 per cent of his potential. If he manages to raise his game by as much as he claims still is possible — most notably, working on and improving his jump shot — “The Greek Freak” will be headed to Mt. Rushmore and his team to a string of champagne celebrations.

2. Brogdon will be missed.

Other contenders in the East lost players every bit as valuable — Boston lost Kyrie Irving, Al Horford and others, Philadelphia no longer has Jimmy Butler and Toronto saw Leonard leave. But Brogdon was a strong two-way player for the Bucks who shot at an elite level in 2018-19, making at least 50% of his attempts overall, 40% from 3-point range and 90% from the foul line. He had a knack for creating opportunities at one or both ends for several possessions, enough to swing some outcomes. That’s what the Pacers hope they get from him as a starter; the Bucks were fortunate to get it from him as a role player.

3. Yes, Middleton is the Bucks’ second star.

With NBA contenders built these days around elite tandems, Middleton feels capable of pulling his weight as Antetokounmpo’s wingman. The soft-spoken sharpshooter — who signed a five-year, $177 million contract in July — was Milwaukee’s second All-Star in February and gained valuable experience with Team USA in FIBA World Cup play. Middleton will be paid almost $5 million more than the MVP this season, he might as well shoulder a commensurate load.

Philadelphia 76ers 2019-20 preview

philadelphia-76ers season preview

The spotlight is expected to only grow brighter for the Sixers, the scrutiny more intense. Few teams were as active as the Sixers during the offseason. They executed a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat, sending Jimmy Butler there in exchange for Josh Richardson while landing Al Horford to play alongside Joel Embiid in the paint. Philadelphia also re-signed Tobias Harris to a $180 million deal, signed Ben Simmons to a five-year maximum contract extension, and made several moves (signing Kyle O’Quinn, Trey Burke and Raul Neto; re-signing Mike Scott, James Ennis and drafting Matisse Thybulle) to overhaul their bench.

Philadelphia 76ers Season Key  POINTS

1. Potential for the No. 1 defence.

The Sixers were a bit of a disappointment defensively last season, ranking 14th in that department. The defence was better in the playoffs and the Sixers only got bigger in the summer. With Simmons and Richardson defending opposing backcourts and with the ability to have Embiid and/or Horford as the anchor for all 48 minutes, the potential is there for this team to lead the league in defensive efficiency.

2. Star chemistry.

As they enter their third season together, there are still questions about how well Simmons and Embiid fit together offensively. Because he hasn’t been able to shoot from the outside, Simmons (along with his defender) has more often occupied space (in the paint) best utilized by Embiid, who has too frequently received the ball too far from the basket in the Sixers’ offence.

While Simmons attempted just 73 shots from outside the paint last season, Embiid attempted 493. But his effective field goal percentage on those shots (40.9 per cent) ranked 210th among 218 players who attempted at least 200. Brown said before training camp that, this season, he would position Simmons more in the corners, rather than in the dunker’s spot (baseline below the block). Defences will ignore Simmons out there until he proves he can shoot, but the positioning is a start toward allowing Embiid to be more prolific and/or efficient offensively.

3. The stagger.

Tied into both of the points above is the fact that Brown staggers his starters’ minutes like no other coach, subbing out early and generally keeping at least two starters on the floor at all times. That gives the Sixers advantages against the second units of their opponents (Brown often had all five starters back on the floor to start the second and fourth quarters in the playoffs), but also means that the starting five-man unit plays fewer minutes per game together than those of other teams.

Denver Nuggets 2019-20 NBA Season Preview

Denver Nuggets season preview

Winning rings is an especially steep hill to climb in the star-studded West, but the Nuggets are hungry to prove that they legitimately belong among the NBA’s elite title contenders. Aside from the injuries which can be any team’s worst-case scenario, Denver’s gloomiest outcome would be if last season’s shooting struggles stuck instead of bouncing back and their defence regressed to bottom-ten in the league – all while key young players, Jamal Murray chief among them, failed to make the progress necessary to lift the Nuggets to the next level.

All the Nuggets did was add to a team than won 54 games last season, while also gaining some priceless experience and another year of age. They picked up Paul Millsap’s option and extended Jamal Murray. They added Jerami Grant, an elastic stretch 4 who can switch and guard basically all five positions, from the repositioning Thunder, which might be one of the best moves of the offseason (non-star division). But maybe their biggest acquisition is a player they already have on the team. Michael Porter Jr. missed all of last season but is primed and ready, and he could give the Nuggets a lift in a scoring area they sorely missed in the postseason.

Denver Nuggets 2019-20 Key POINTS

1. Conditioning is key.

The Nuggets always have an advantage at their high altitude home, one that showed up in a league-best 34-7 record at home. But coach Michael Malone noticed some of his players dragging when their 82-game season turned into 96 games due to two seven-game playoff series. Better individual pacing and more strategic deployment of minutes — the roster is deep enough for that — are needed so the Nuggets can go to three rounds or four next spring.

2. More tweaks on defence.

The Nuggets cleaned up a glaring problem with their 3-point defence from 2017-18, improving from the league’s bottom to its top. In fact, they allowed just 30% shooting in the fourth quarter. But limiting opponents’ scoring in the paint is the next frontier; Denver was middle-of-the-pack in that space.

3. Find Jokic a trainer he loves.

As good as the Nuggets’ slick-passing, the team-first big man is now, imagine how effective he might be if he were, Uhm, less upholstered. No one needs him to become chiselled, but carrying around a little less weight — or healthier size, if you will — might enable him to use his dazzling skills more effectively, while giving better than he gets in the beatdown department.

Houston Rockets 2019-20 Season Preview

houston rockets season preview

Internal drama dominated the early-summer Rockets headlines. They never did get a deal done with D’Antoni after way-too-public extension talks fizzled twice. They surprisingly found a solution to whatever friction there was between James Harden and Chris Paul, pouncing on the opportunity to flip Paul and a package of picks for longtime Harden BFF Russell Westbrook. The Rockets kept the rest of their core together and managed to add some playoff-tested, high-character vets (Tyson Chandler, Thabo Sefolosha) while staying under the luxury tax.

Once again among the favourites to win it all, Houston will use the 2019-20 NBA Season (and win at least 50 games along the way) to find the most impactful way to mesh its former MVPs, while tinkering with the supporting cast to build a formidable postseason monster. A deep playoff run won’t be enough organizationally if they’re not hugging the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end.

Houston Rockets 2019-20 Season Key POINTS

1. Combustibility a concern.

Harden and Westbrook want to play together, and the childhood friends are tight off the court. But naturally, questions arise about how the former Thunder teammates will co-exist now that the former Kia MVPs have both become such ball-dominant superstars. They’re in their primes, too. They insist they’ll find away.

2. Depth issues worth monitoring.

The top seven players on the roster match up favourably against the majority of the NBA’s top seven. But with high-usage players like Harden and Westbrook, it would be difficult to rest them for long stretches if they’re not confident in the depth. Houston ranked last in bench minutes (27.2) and scoring (27.0) last season.

3. Houston’s biggest flaw?

That’s rebounding, specifically defensive rebounding, according to coach Mike D’Antoni. He mentioned this area of weakness on multiple occasions last season, and in September pointed it out as the team’s top priority. Houston tied for 29th last season in defensive rebounding (31.9). The addition of Westbrook might help here.

Utah Jazz 2019-20 Season Preview

Utah Jazz 2019-20 season preview

There are several West teams with more glitz and glamour than the small-market Jazz. However, after a summer of roster renovation, Utah has a legitimate chance to be the last team standing in a loaded conference and perhaps finally bring a championship parade to Salt Lake City.

Utah will now put a modern offence on the floor, without necessarily sacrificing its defensive identity. Last season, in nearly 1,000 possessions, Utah allowed just 102.9 points per 100 possessions (97th percentile) when Gobert was on the floor without Favors and Jae Crowder. The plus-12.5 net rating of those alignments was also in the 97th percentile.

Surrounding Gobert with multiple switchy defenders who can also shoot and create on the other end brings the Jazz into basketball’s 21st century.

Utah Jazz 2019-20 Season

The offensive upgrades make Utah exponentially less predictable. When Conley, Mitchell, Bogdanovic and Ingles are on the floor, defences won’t be able to crowd Gobert’s rolls to the rim. Driving lanes will be open for Conley, Mitchell and Bogdanovic.

Coach Quin Snyder has Utah pointed toward its fourth consecutive postseason and third 50-victory season in four years. If Gobert can stay healthy and effective — without the help to which he’d grown accustomed from the brawny Favors — the Jazz might be able to push to the top of the West and reach the Finals for the first time since Michael Jordan was trolling Karl Malone and John Stockton.

Utah Jazz 2019-20 Season Key POINTS

1. Mitchell needs a lighter load.

As delighted as Jazz fans and the organization are with Mitchell’s impact after just two seasons, he shouldered too great an offensive burden — and it showed, especially at playoff time. Conley, Bogdanovic and Green should be able to provide enough scoring and playmaking to free up Mitchell.

2. Gobert is this team’s MVP.

Nothing to argue about here. Others might score more or in flashier ways, but none of his teammates plays as pivotal a role at both ends. The repeat winner of the Kia Defensive Player of the Year award is the fulcrum of Utah’s defensive schemes, and Gobert’s screen-setting and offensive boards keep the attack flowing.

3. Avoid the Rockets.

Houston has eliminated the Jazz from the past two postseasons, so even though both teams have changed considerably, Utah would be wise to avoid that matchup again next spring.

Portland Trail Blazers 2019-20 season preview

Portland Trail Blazers 2019-20 Season Preview

The Portland Trail Blazers are entering one of their most anticipated 2019-20 NBA Season in recent memory. One season after reaching the Western Conference Finals for their deepest playoff run in 19 years, the Blazers return with new pieces to complement guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Portland signed Lillard and McCollum to extensions this summer, potentially giving them another five years of trying to chase an NBA title with this explosive backcourt. The Blazers will celebrate their 50th season in 2019-20 and want nothing more than to cap it with the franchise’s second NBA title.

With four of their top seven players in playoff minutes hitting free agency, the Blazers turned over their roster more than the typical conference finalist. Al-Farouq Aminu (Orlando), Seth Curry (Dallas) and Enes Kanter (Boston) signed elsewhere, though Portland was able to re-sign Rodney Hood. To fortify the wing rotation, the Blazers sent Evan Turner to Atlanta for superior shooter Kent Bazemore. They also dealt for Hassan Whiteside. Perhaps most importantly, Portland extended the contracts of All-NBA guard Damian Lillard (a supermax deal through 2024-25) and backcourt mate CJ McCollum (through 2023-24).

The 2019-20 NBA Season figures to play out in stages, with the first 20 games potentially a feeling out process for coach Terry Stotts in how to integrate his new players, and how to develop them into the rotation. Stotts has said this is the deepest team he has had in his eight seasons, and that will bring some playing time balancing, with young players such as Skal Labissiere, Gary Trent Jr. and Nassir Little, who could potentially be positive contributors, having to wait their turn.

Portland Trail Blazers 2019-20 Key POINTS

1. Big changes upfront.

The departure of Aminu and Harkless is cause for potential concern. In particular, there is a concern that the West’s elite wing players such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and LeBron James will be too strong and swift for Rodney Hood, Zach Collins or whomever else coach Terry Stotts deploys.

2. Don’t just pick on the frontcourt.

The Blazers’ dynamic pair of guards, Lillard and C.J. McCollum, have their limitations defensively as well. Any matchup with Houston will have them staring across at Russell Westbrook and James Harden, a nightmare for any team but a potentially huge impediment to Portland’s plan.

3. Stotts quietly gets it done.

Stotts, entering his eighth season with Portland, has the Blazers flirting with 50 victories season after season. His players demonstrate their respect for him on and off the court, and he more than returns that kindness by helping many of them to some of the best seasons of their careers.

Brooklyn Nets 2019-20 season preview

Brooklyn Nets 2019-20 nba season preview

With Durant expected to miss the entire year, the Nets might not be any better than they were last season. They’ve swapped Russell for Irving and have lost some important veterans off the bench. But a healthier season and continued development from LeVert could make a big difference and put Brooklyn in the mix for a top-four seed in what should be a weaker Eastern Conference.

This 2019-20 NBA Season for nets is all about integrating the team’s newcomers. Away from the games, Kevin Durant’s rehab hangs over Brooklyn’s season. Usually, a team that signs superstars also attracts quality reserves, and the Nets accomplished that by signing point guard Garrett Temple, forward Wilson Chandler (though he’ll be suspended the first 25 games of the season for PEDs) and guard David Nwaba. Forward Taurean Prince, 25, is expected to play a prominent role in Brooklyn’s rotation after coming over in a June trade that sent Allen Crabbe’s contract and at least one first-round pick to Atlanta. After punting on the first round of the NBA Draft, Brooklyn took Georgia centre Nic Claxton with the first pick of the second round to learn behind Jordan and Allen.

Brooklyn Nets 2019-20 season Key POINTS

1. Culture vs. talent. Acquiring Durant and Irving was a coup, but the culture that the Nets have built over the last three years could suffer from the integration of two-star talents with complicated personalities. It will be fascinating to see if the entire roster can stay on the same page, both on and off the floor.

2. A third star in the making. The Nets had to part ways with their All-Star (Russell) to add their two new All-NBA talents. But they retained the best two-way player on last season’s roster. LeVert had a terrific start to the season before suffering a horrific injury in mid-November. And after struggling to get his rhythm back post-injury, he was the team’s best player in the playoffs, averaging 21 points on an effective field goal percentage of 57.5 per cent. If he can build off that and remain healthy, LeVert could emerge as the third star in Brooklyn.

3. A hole at the four. Durant’s absence and Chandler’s suspension leave the Nets thin (both literally and figuratively) at the power forward position. Rodions Kurucs started 46 games as a rookie, but is still raw and is facing an assault charge in court. Whether or not that affects the season, the 6-foot-8 Prince could get the bulk of the minutes at the four until Chandler returns. The Nets may be forced to play super-small or, perhaps, Jordan and Jarrett Allen together. “It’ll play out through competition,” coach Kenny Atkinson said.

Golden State Warriors 2019-20 NBA Season Preview

Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors enter the 2019-20 NBA Season with a new look. After five years of dominance, including five consecutive NBA Finals appearances and three championships, the Warriors have turned over their roster and moved home to their state-of-the-art arena in downtown San Francisco as they begin anew.

Aside from losing Durant, the Warriors also lost veteran stalwarts Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, and now the locker room is filled with young players trying to make a name for themselves in the league. The key for the Warriors will be integrating D’Angelo Russell into the offence. He was acquired in the Durant sign-and-trade with Brooklyn and should provide a big offensive boost as Klay Thompson — out until at least the All-Star break — works his way back from an ACL tear.

If the Warriors miss the playoffs it won’t be a major surprise (don’t tell that that Green), especially if Thompson doesn’t return until spring (or not at all). You cannot lose Durant and Thompson and not suffer some slippage, maybe even 10 wins’ worth. The West is loaded again and nobody is guaranteed anything — not even the club that owned the conference the last six seasons. Consider that Curry will command plenty of attention from the opposition and Green will need to hit those open jumpers that he missed last season. That’s a lot of stress placed on the Warriors’ two most important players. Even if they manage to play into late April, the Warriors’ 2019-20 experience is bound to be humbling to a degree. After being on top, there’s seemingly only one way to go.

Golden State Warriors 2019-20 Season Key POINTS

1. Onward and upward. Although they’d have every excuse to do so with Durant gone and Thompson healing, the Warriors will not tank this season. Not with Curry still in his prime and Russell on the fast track to being a solid player. Therefore, don’t expect them to ask Thompson to redshirt 2019-20 NBA Season or try to trade Green, whom they just extended.

2. Prove it, Draymond. The theory that says Green would be an ordinary player on a lesser team will be tested this season. For much of his career, Green has been surrounded by great players. With the only Curry on board to start the season, that won’t be the case in 2019-20. We’ll see if Green, whose 3-point percentage fell to 28.5% last season, can ease into being a go-to player if the need arises.

3. Opportunity knocks. The Warriors signed Cauley-Stein on the cheap because the Kings wanted to wash their hands of the former lottery pick. The 7-footer is a strange bird. He’s mild-mannered yet quirky, and his grasp of the game needs enhancing. The physical skills are enticing, though, and Cauley-Stein, in a new environment with arguably better coaching, will get every opportunity to prove Sacramento wrong.

Golden State Warriors 2019-20

The Western Conference is tougher than ever, and these new-look Warriors will have to be at their best every night to compete. They’ve got a road-heavy schedule early on which could be an opportunity to accelerate bonding and develop some good chemistry or expose some of the weaknesses on their roster. Thompson is not expected back until after the All-Star break, and then he’ll need a couple of months to really get back to form, so the Warriors are going to have to make it the playoffs largely without him.

There’s also not a whole load of flexibility to improve the team. The Warriors are hard-capped at the “apron” courtesy of the sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell. As it stands they can’t add any more players onto their roster until March 3rd. The deadline for signing a player who has been on another team’s roster and still have them be playoff eligible is March 1st. That means unless they waive McKinnie before his deal becomes guaranteed in January, or create more space through a two-for-one trade, they’ll be limited to promoting one of their players on two-way contracts (eg Damion Lee), or bringing in a player from another league, as they did with Andrew Bogut last year.

There will be some tough decisions throughout the 2019-20 NBA Season, such as the one they are already facing with training camp breakout Marquese Chriss, but if they want to be able to participate in the buyout market later on they need to keep hold of McKinnie for now.

Boston Celtics Season Preview

Boston Celtics 2019-20 nba season preview

2019-20 NBA Season Celtics could tell us just as much about team chemistry and the whole being greater or less than the sum of the parts. The Celtics appear to be a tier below the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers in the East, and their lack of quality bigs is a real concern. But there’s no telling just how much of a leap Brown and Tatum will make or if Hayward can get back to 100 percent. Though the complicated Irving is gone, it will still be a challenge for Stevens to get those three functioning well and getting them the touches they need alongside Walker. But the potential is certainly there for the Celtics’ first top-five offense in more than 10 years.

For the Celtics, the real hit came when the team’s glue guy, Al Horford, spurned Boston for longtime rival and division foe Philadelphia. His departure, coupled with the trade of veteran center Aron Baynes, a Brad Stevens favorite, decimated a Boston lineup that held teams to 44.6% shooting (fifth best in the league) last season. Enes Kanter will be an upgrade on the offensive glass, but the Celtics are thin when it comes to bigs, and their draft-day haul of Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards and Grant Williams didn’t address that gaping hole.

Boston Celtics 2019-20 NBA Season Key POINTS

1. Smart balance. Coach Brad Stevens started last season with his most talented starting lineup (Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum playing the 2-4). But after Thanksgiving, he swapped Brown and Hayward for Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart, who brought more balance to the lineup and started the rest of the season. With a new season, Stevens will have to decide if Smart in the lineup is worth bringing a dynamic young talent (Brown) or a player making $33 million a year (Hayward) off the bench.

2. Get to the hoop, get to the line. Last season, the Celtics ranked 27th in the percentage of their shots that came in the restricted area (less than 29 percent) and last in free throw rate (25 attempts per 100 shots from the field). One area where Kanter is an upgrade over Horford is his ability to produce shots near the basket via his rolls to the rim and offensive rebounding.

3. Opportunities up front. Even if they’re playing small, the Celtics still need at least one other big — from a group that includes Poirier, Theis and Robert Williams III — to step up. That’s especially true on defense, where they’ll need a replacement for Kanter when they need to get a stop.

 

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