Photo: NBC Sports
By: Patrick Whalen
Now that we’ve gone over our expectations for the returning players we’ve gotta talk about what we can expect from the rookies. Now that the final roster has been set for opening night it is official that the Celtics will have 5 rookies dressed in Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Vincent Poirier, and Javonte Green. The roster also features Tacko Fall and Tremont Waters who are on two-way contracts and will begin the year in the G League with the Maine Red Claws. So if the Celtics expect to try and make a deep playoff run this year they will have to rely on their youth off the bench in order to do so. So without further ado, let’s get into it starting with the first-round pick from this past season Romeo Langford.
Langford was a top recruit in last year’s ESPN top 100 but a thumb injury derailed his freshmen season. He was still able to average 16.5 ppg and 5.4 rpg over 32 games at Indiana but the thumb problem mostly affected his shooting percentage as he only shot 44.8% from the floor and 27.2% from three-point land. But with Langford’s thumb now fully healed he primed to make a big impact for the Celtics off the bench. His offensive game will be a big addition to the Celtic bench as he is excellent at getting to the rim and if his three-point numbers can improve with a healthy thumb he’ll be an even bigger offensive weapon off the bench. I think the Celtics will ease him back into game action to start the season but once he gets back into rhythm he’ll be one of the keys to the Celtics second unit.
Games: 68 MPG: 18.7 PPG: 8.7 RPG: 2.6 APG: 1.4 FG%: 45.3% 3P%: 32.8%
Probably the rookie drawing the most hype from this preseason, Edwards’ played 3 seasons at Purdue before the Celtics drafted him 33rd overall earlier this year. At Purdue Edwards was known as a streaky scorer. In his junior season, Edwards was averaging 24.3 ppg but his shooting numbers dropped down to 39.4% from the floor and 35.5% from three. Some of that production decline can be attributed to him being their main scoring option and with that role he averaged a whopping 19.5 shots per game. But from his NCAA tournament performance and even in the most recent preseason game we’ve seen what can happen when Edwards gets hot. His tournament run had him averaging 34.8 ppg over 4 games with two 42 point performances. His most recent performance against Cleveland just confirmed it for Celtics fans that Edwards can and definitely will be an offensive threat off the bench as he scored 30 points including 26 in the third quarter that included him hitting 8 three-pointers in that quarter alone. Performances like that are why Edwards will definitely get minutes in the rotation and will probably see a minutes increase later in the season if he can prove some consistency.
Games: 74 MPG: 17.3 PPG: 9.3 APG: 1.7 RPG: 1.8 FG%: 42.9% 3P%: 37.4%
The Celtics other first-round pick is another promising player. With the 22nd pick, the Celtics drafted the 2 time SEC player of the year in Grant Williams. Williams was coming off his third year at Tennessee as he was apart of the class that brought the Vols back to relevance in college basketball. He finished his junior season showing that he can do everything on the court averaging 18.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.2 apg, and even 1.5 blocks. Williams is a player with an extremely high basketball IQ and just has a sixth sense when it comes to making the correct pass or the correct decision with the ball while he’s on the floor. Plus, at 6’7″ 236 lbs, he is a load to handle down low. Grant will have to compete hard for minutes as the frontcourt already features the likes of Enes Kanter, Robert Williams III, Daniel Theis, and fellow rookie Vincent Poirier. But I think his high IQ and motor will earn him minutes in the rotation this season.
Games: 63 MPG: 12.4 PPG: 5.2 RPG: 2.8 APG: 2.1 FG%: 49.7% 3P%: 30.1%
The Celtics added another big man from overseas again this offseason as they added Frenchmen Vincent Poirier to their frontcourt. Poirier is coming off a season where he made the All-EuroLeague Second Team and led the Euro League in rebounding, a place where the Celtics have struggled over the last few seasons. He averaged 11.9 ppg and 8.3 rpg last season in Europe and he averaged 6 ppg and 4 rpg while he represented France at the FIBA World Cup. Poirier will be bringing hustle and a veteran presence for a rookie as he enters his NBA rookie season at the age of 26. It will be interesting to see where he gets minutes with him and fellow rookie Grant Williams both competing for minutes with Robert Williams, Kanter, and Theis.
Games: 55 MPG: 10.6 PPG: 2.5 RPG: 3.3 APG: 0.7 FG%: 52.4% Blocks: 0.9
Green will be making his NBA rookie debut at the age of 26 as well as he is also joining the Celtics after spending some time overseas. The former Radford star graduated in 2015 and proceeded to go undrafted. He then jumped around Europe playing in Spain, Italy and most recently Germany, where he earned an All-Star selection last season. During lats season Green averaged 13.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, and 2.3 steals. Green is most well known for his defense dating back to college when he earned the title of Big South defensive player of the year during his senior season. Green earned the final roster spot after an impressive final preseason game where he scored 16 points and had 9 rebounds off the bench against Cleveland. Green is pretty much the 15th player on the roster so his playing time will be very limited but he is looking like a good asset to have at the end of the bench to try and develop into a solid role player.
Games: 45 MPG: 8.9 PPG: 2.9 RPG: 2.7 APG: 1.2 FG%: 47.3% 3P%: 25.8%
The final draft pick of the Celtics from this past draft was Tremont Waters with the 51st overall pick out of LSU. Waters is one of two rookies on two-way contracts entering this season as he’ll split time between the Celtics and the G League affiliate Maine Red Claws. In just 2 seasons at LSU Waters left his mark by making the All-Freshmen team and in his sophomore season winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Waters isn’t just a defender though, he averaged 15.3 ppg during his sophomore campaign with 2.8 rpg, 5.8 apg, and 2.9 steals. The only knock on Waters is that he is undersized at only 5’11”, but he is a tenacious defender, a good scorer, and a smart passer. Waters will definitely see time this season and could potentially lead to the Celtics getting rid of Brad Wanamaker if they believe that Waters and fellow rookie Carsen Edwards can handle the load.
Games: 37 MPG: 7.1 PPG: 2.2 RPG: 1.6 APG: 2.4 FG%: 41.2% 3P%: 33.6%
Last but not least, of course, is the other rookie on a two-way contract Tacko Fall. The 7’6″ big man out of UCF went undrafted earlier this year and the Celtics signed him to a deal for summer league. After a promising summer league performance, they then signed him to his two-way contract. Fall finished his senior season at UCF last year averaging 11.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, and 2.6 blocks. GM Danny Ainge has already said that Fall will spend most of the season with the Maine Red Claws developing his game. If Fall can develop into a solid role player down the road he will become a force off the bench just because of his size, if he can develop his offensive game to combine with his size watch out NBA.
Games: 18 MPG: 5.4 PPG: 1.9 RPG: 2.4 APG: 0.4 Blocks: 1.3 FG%: 70.2%