The Celtics didn’t make any major moves in free agency, but their roster will look a little different in 2021. We are resetting the depth chart and have already taken a deep dive into the point guards, shooting guards, small forwards and power forwards. Now, it’s time to finish off the list and take a look at the center position.
Starter: Robert Williams
Backup No. 1: Enes Kanter
Backup No. 2: Luke Kornet
Unlike some other positions, center is not top-heavy for the Celtics. There is not one single star at the position like Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum. Instead, there is a budding youngster that could prove to be a franchise cornerstone leading the position.
Robert Williams is that possible cornerstone. The big man is coming off his third season in the league, where he averaged eight points and seven rebounds per game, both of which were career highs. He got more playing time and capitalized on it. Now, he just needs to stay healthy because injuries have sidelined him way too much already.
The most important part of Williams’ game is his defense. He averaged just under two blocks per contest last season. The Celtics have some great defensive guards, but not so many bigs. Williams is the best defensive big man they have and is so talented he makes up for the others’ lapses. His defensive presence is even more important when Boston runs small with Tatum at the 4 and Brown at the 3. Those guys are fine defenders, but are nothing special. Williams helps fill the gaps they can’t.
Williams will also fit really well with the Celtics’ new guards because of his talent in the pick-and-roll. He’s an athletic big that moves well after setting a screen. So, pairing up Dennis Schröder with Williams in a pick-and-roll scenario will be a sight to see.
Enes Kanter is one of the most underrated rebounders in the entire NBA. He averaged 11 boards per game last season in Portland. If he can do that, or something close to that, again in Boston, he will have filled his role. He doesn’t need to be a scorer, just clean up the glass.
Luke Kornet is the Jabari Parker of centers – a.k.a., you don’t need to worry about him. He will come in during trash time or for small spurts to give someone a breather. He’s not especially good with one specific thing, so he doesn’t fit a role on the team. He’ll ride the bench and wait to be one of the small side pieces in a trade, if the Celtics make one next season.
Although he is not listed in this article, Al Horford will also see considerable time at center. He played the five while in Boston previously, but he is better at the four. Nevertheless, Horford will play center when Williams and Kanter are out.