Some teams have a shortage of talent, but this group doesn’t include the Boston Celtics.
Don’t worry about how they are just 13-11 on the season. Beantown has good depth and one of most talent-laden squads in the league, thanks in good part to the brilliance of head coach Brad Stevens and the collection of first-round picks they’ve had over the last seven years.
With that, there’s a window now where they can probably afford unloading at least one of their top guys, like point guard Kemba Walker.
Walker has been an All-Star in each of the last four seasons, and he’s also had five-straight years tallying 20 or more points per game. At the very least, he’s level slightly below Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, and Kyrie Irving among the best high-scoring, sweet-shooting guards. He can be clutch too.
However, considering how things have transpired over the past year, he may now be a trade chip to address needs. Walker hurt his knee in January 2020, which caused him to miss eight combined games, and has been iffy in certain stretches ever since. He did look good in the 2020 playoffs, but he went on to miss the first three weeks of the 2020-21 season and returned looking clearly hampered.
Don’t forget all the other injuries before and since that nagging knee problem:
With Walker sidelined through the first 11 games of the season, the Celtics went 8-3 and averaged a really solid 114 points per game, which both ranked them inside the top 10.
Boston managed such a start courtesy of some welcome surprises. With resident All-Star Jayson Tatum playing to expectations, his supposed second fiddle Jaylen Brown raised his game to great heights. Brown racked up 20-plus points in nine times in those 11 outings and averaged a career-high 25.8 PPG on 53.7% shooting – he’s over 26 PPG now and still shoots over 51% . He’s clearly poised to earn his first All-Star selection.
Then, there’s draft steal Payton Pritchard, who plays the same position as Walker. The rookie has been showcasing glimpses of his potential, chipping in 9.5 points, 2.7 assists, and 1.6 threes per game in just 21.1 minutes of action. Boston is also 5-1 when he plays over 25 minutes.
Walker, on the other hand, is posting underwhelming numbers since he’s bothered by an ailing knee. He’s only scoring 16.5 points (lowest since his rookie year) on a career-low 34.7% shooting. Unlike Pritchard’s case, his presence doesn’t appear to be doing much. The Celtics are only 4-7 when he plays.
Should we expect the Celtics to trade him?
Maybe not this season, but we ought to watch out in the upcoming off-season, especially if they fail to win or get frustratingly bounced again. Also, Tatum and Brown are quickly turning into an elite duo, and Stevens’s system is arguably better with an actual floor general, not a ‘points’ guard.
The Celtics face the Pistons next at 9:00 AM Manila time on Saturday, February 13.