As one of the most action-packed periods of NBA Free Agency comes to a close, the balance of power in the East has drastically shifted. Kawhi Leonard has left the Toronto Raptors, the reigning champs in the east, and they’re now playoff long-shots. The Bucks lost a key player in Malcolm Brogdon to the Pacers. Jimmy Butler left Philly for sunny Miami, and the Sixers decided to go big with Al Horford. With a spreading of wealth across the league, the Boston Celtics find themselves in Eastern Conference contention once again.
All-Star for All-Star
The Celtics lost their one All-Star (Kyrie Irving) to the Brooklyn Nets at the start of Free Agency. Danny Ainge recovered quite nicely by signing an All-Star replacement in Kemba Walker. Walker is an excellent plug-and-play scorer who is more of a seasoned leader and floor general. This negates their big loss (Irving) with a big gain (Walker). Not many NBA teams were able to do that this summer.
Top Teams get weaker
The Celtics inadvertently benefit by some of the other top teams in the east getting worse. The Sixers boast about acquiring Al Horford and their giant lineup, despite losing Jimmy Butler. Butler was huge for them down the stretch, and has left the ‘giant’ lineup with lack of floor spacing and speed. The Raptors lost their one superstar and the main reason they dominated in Kawhi Leonard. The Milwaukee Bucks kept most of their big players, but sacrificed depth in the process. The spread of wealth has put the Celtics at least on par with these teams, if not made them better.
Cohesion and Youth
One of the biggest knocks on last years Celtics were that the lacked chemistry. The locker room was rife with drama, and a rift between young guys and veterans quickly formed. This roster is extremely young (minus Walker) and seems to genuinely like each other. This team has a lot of players together at the summer league this year, and they look cohesive. If this can translate to the Celtics main roster, they could be a force to be reckoned with this season.