As the Celtics' regular season kicks off on Wednesday night, let's look at a few key storylines that will shape how this group performs during the 2020-21 season.
1. How long does Danny Ainge wait to find help with his $28.5 million trade exception? The Celtics have a full 15-man roster right now but there is no questioning there is some dead weight at the bottom of this roster. After committing so much draft capital to this team in the last few years though, Danny Ainge seems intent on finding out what his younger non-lottery talent can grow into before making any bigger decisions with what to put around his young talented core.
“I hope that all the players out there can appreciate when they really get in the league, because there are good players that don't have jobs in the NBA, right now,” Ainge said earlier this month. “Very good players. And listen, I'd like to see what I'd like to see what we have. I want to see some guys given an opportunity first, before we make a judgement. We don't have enough scoring off the bench. We have a couple guys that didn't get a chance to play much last year and I think can provide us some scoring punch. So time will tell.”
With Kemba Walker and Romeo Langford sidelined and no experienced replacement for Gordon Hayward on the wing in place, Boston will quickly find out what they have in meaningful bench depth and it may not go well if the preseason was any indication. Given that the Celtics may be playing in the most challenging division in the NBA this season, regular season wins will be tougher to come by. Officially, trade season begins this year on Feb. 6 (free agents signed this offseason can be traded then) and the trade deadline has been set for March 25. If the Celtics want to get serious about contending in the East this season, a move will need to be made with the exception, potentially sooner rather than later based on how this undermanned group comes together out of the gate.
2. Can Jaylen Brown flourish as a No. 2 option next to Jayson Tatum on a nightly basis? Gordon Hayward