Philadelphia 76ers: Boston’s new-look squad just doesn’t measure up

(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images) /

While Boston did get better in free agency thanks to the additions of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter, they still don’t measure up to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Boston Celtics had a complicated free agency.

With the team’s two best players, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, opting to leave the confines of Beantown for the greener pastures of the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers, it was entirely possible that Danny Ainge could have unwillingly thrust his team back to the drawing board despite having one of the deepest war chests in the entire NBA.

Fortunately, the team received a reprieve with the additions of Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter, a pair of recently introduced veteran scorers who should give Brad Stevens enough firepower to remain firmly in the postseason hunt in 2019-20.

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However, despite adding a legitimate star in Walker and a, shall we say intriguing option in Kanter, this team just doesn’t measure up to their neighbors down in Philly.

Emphasis on the word measure.

In a lot of ways, the Celtics’ current starting five is practically prototypical for the modern-day NBA: a score-first playmaking point (Walker), a big-bodied dunker in the paint (Kanter), and three 3-and-D guards/forwards on the wings in Jaylen Brown (6-foot-7), Jayson Tatum (6-foot-8), and Gordon Hayward (6-foot-8).

On paper, that squad should be able to do damage against pretty much any team in the league, especially when you consider the team has solid performers like Marcus Smart coming off the bench, but the team just isn’t built to spot Brett Brown‘s new super-sized front.

Why? Well, for one, the team only has two players who stand 6-foot-10 or taller in Kanter and second-year center Robert Williams.

While this isn’t exactly a prerequisite for success in 2019, it’s hard to imagine the Celtics being able to guard the Sixers’ supersized roster – with three 6-foot-10 or taller players in their starting five alone – for 48 minutes a night.

Furthermore, Kanter also just so happens to be one of the worst defensive centers in NBA history.

Again, most teams can get away with a less than elite defender in the paint due to the devaluation of the position as the league shifts more and more outside the paint, but when you have to face off against Joel Embiid (not to mention Al Horford) multiple times a year (and potentially in a seven-game playoff series), its hard to find a worse defender in the league to match up against ‘The Process’.

The same, albeit to a lesser degree, could be said about Walker’s matchup-ability against the Sixer backcourt duo of Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson.

Measuring in at 6-foot-1, 184 pounds, Walker is one of the smallest starting point guards in the league. While this doesn’t mean he can’t still get buckets, as Walker torched the 2017-18 Sixers (mostly J.J. Redick) consistently last season, it does limit his effectiveness against a starting five with an average height of 6-foot-9.4.

And with how tight the 2020 Eastern Conference race is shaping up to be come next April, four games either way could be the difference between a third seed and a sixth seed.

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Ultimately, whether or not Danny Ainge builds a team that’s better or worse in 2019-20 will largely depend on how well they’re able to come together and perform as a singular unit, but there’s an old adage in the sport that states that ‘you build a team to win its division’, and by adding a small point guard and defensive liability at center, it’s hard to see how the Boston Celtics will be able to measure up to the new supersized Philadelphia 76ers.