The Boston Celtics have a shooting guard unit consisting of extremely young, versatile players each with the potential to be stars in the NBA. Under coach Brad Stevens, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown have shown flashes of greatness. With Kyrie gone plus the addition of Romeo Langford, the young Celtics shooting guards are expected to look better than ever. Today we talk about the pieces of this impressive core.
The young shooting guard has shown flashes of what could come in his three years. Now without ball dominant players like Rozier and Kyrie, Brown can finally capitalize on those flashes. The young man was an McDonald’s All American, and named Mr.Basketball in Georgia (among other awards) for a great high school senior season where he averaged 28 points and 12 rebounds. This warranted a five star recruit status, and a commitment to the University of California. During his stint in California he won PAC-12 freshmen of the year, and was named to the first team.
Since being drafted by the Celtics, Brown has exhibited a great scoring ability to go along with solid playmaking and ball handling. He is also a solid rebounder, just not as good as he was in high school. He is also a good defender, who I think could get even better. While his free throw shooting is pretty bad, he has been working hard on improving it, and I have no doubt he will.
Brown has the potential to be a solid 18-20 PPG scorer on a championship team. He also could become a great defender, though not at the level of Smart. A partnership with Tatum and Walker could greatly benefit Brown, allowing him to not be the focus of the defense. I could see him being a five or six time All Star when his career is said and done.
A McDonald’s All-American in high school, Smart earned five star status and committed to Oklahoma State University. At OSU he was a great all around player who was basically the leader of the team. He stayed in college for two years, even being named a finalist for the Naismith player of the year.
The longest tenured Celtic, yet still a young player at 25, Smart is the model of a hardworking player. On the court he is known for scrapping and diving for balls. Off the court we see a player who is constantly working to get better. He has basically improved in every skill every single year he has played. Bad three point shooter in 2018? Well last year he improved it from 30% to 36%. Bad shooter inside the arc? Last year he improved it from 43% to 51%. Struggled from the free throw line? Now up seven percent. You get the point.
He went from a liability on offense to a great scorer, passer, and ball-handler. He also is a solid rebounder. And of course don’t forget his amazing defense, which was finally recognized last year with a selection to the first All-Defensive team. He can guard the post, and is also arguably the best perimeter defender in the entire league. He is now an all around player, not just a defensive presence.
I see him as a future sixth man of the year candidate. He could score about 15 PPG and be a great playmaker off the bench. Also, his amazing defensive ability could potentially grow to the level of finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. While I don’t seeing him make more than a couple All Star appearances in his career, he is definitely a great player.
Now here’s a truly interesting shooting guard. Langford was a spectacular high school prospect, winning awards similar to that of Jaylen Brown. He was approached by many top colleges like Duke, UCLA, North Carolina, and his eventual choice in Indiana. Last year, despite battling a bad thumb, he was fifth in the nation in freshman scoring. He was also the highest freshman scorer in the Big Ten, and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team. He entered the draft this offseason where he was drafted at the end of the lottery by the Celtics.
From what we have seen from him, he appears to be a great inside the arc scorer who knows how to get to the rim. He is a good rebounder, passer, and ball-handler, but his decision making needs improvement. His defense is pretty good already, and looks to get even better. The only thing he really struggled with last year was deep shooting, and I’m quite sure that has to do with his thumb injury.
If he plays like he did in college we could one day see this guy dropping 20 points a night and play defense that rivals that of Brown. He could possibly be an All Star, but it is of course too early to tell. The only things he needs to do is get healthy and work on his basketball IQ, and we could see him taking playing time away from Smart and Brown.
This shooting guard group has a combined potential that goes unrivaled in the NBA. Now I doubt all three with stay with the team for their whole careers, so I suggest we enjoy this while it lasts.