The discussions happen at each NBA sport. Some are at courtside as gamers undergo particular person warmups within the couple of hours previous to tipoff. Some are within the press eating space.
Advance scouts from across the league are there to not solely chart performs for upcoming video games towards their groups, but additionally to take a look at gamers their golf equipment could wish to purchase down the road. (That’s why they pay specific consideration within the early periods to see the strikes and fundamental work ethic of those that could play sparingly or in no way.)
In an total sense, these people who find themselves paid to guage gamers and groups have some pretty robust opinions about this 12 months’s Celtics — and the way they differ from final 12 months’s Celtics.
“This is all about getting away from Kyrie,” mentioned one lately.
“You can’t put that all on Kyrie,” replied one other.
“OK, 99 percent.”
Ah, scout humor.
The reality is, in fact, extra advanced, they usually know that.
One Western Convention scout instructed the Herald, “Completely you’re going to have a change in workforce perspective when Kemba Walker replaces Kyrie Irving, however what you’re seeing now says extra in regards to the younger guys getting their (stuff) collectively.
“They (Celtics) still have some ball movement issues at times, especially with (Gordon) Hayward out, but you’re seeing a lot less pounding the ball with guys like (Jayson) Tatum this year. He’ll still over-dribble sometimes, but it’s not like it was last year after he spent time with Kobe.”
Tatum vigorously denied any of his 2018-19 points stemmed from offseason tutelage by Kobe Bryant, however the circumstantial proof is that the Celts as an entire are extra in tune with one another this season.
“You can blame Kyrie for a lot,” mentioned one scout, “but I’m not sure anyone could reel those kids in after they’d gone to the conference finals without him and Hayward.”
Danny Ainge has mentioned he didn’t assemble the roster correctly, and he instructed the Herald in a Tuesday story, “I think it was everybody trying to figure out like how they could earn their opportunities, and there wasn’t enough to go around to feed everybody.”
Now the Celtics appear to have grasped that in the event that they play laborious sufficient on protection, the ball will discover them on the different finish, whether or not it’s on a quick break or a secondary motion or simply the ball motion that’s promoted when a workforce is hustling and trusting on D.
Oh, there are nonetheless certain to be stretches of slippage, and the Celts have gone by a few of them lately whereas getting crushed in Brooklyn and permitting the Knicks to manage an excessive amount of of the sport Sunday earlier than they saved themselves. The C’s additionally acquired down 11 to Miami Wednesday earlier than cranking up the defensive quantity to remain undefeated at house — a streak that shall be more durable to maintain intact when Denver exhibits up Friday evening.
“I really like the way they play defense,” mentioned a scout. “They know they’ve some issues guarding inside, however they compensate fairly effectively by placing extra stress on the ball.
“Everyone knows how (Marcus) Smart defends, but Tatum is rangy, and Jaylen Brown can be really good. Kemba isn’t really going to shut down a top point guard or anything, but he’s working out there. Then they come in with people like (Semi) Ojeleye and their other guys, (Brad) Wanamaker, and you can see why their bench gets them going in some of these games.”
A scout who’s seen the Celts usually — however wasn’t at Friday’s win over Denver — has been caught a bit off-guard by the membership’s march to 16-5.
“I supposed it shouldn’t surprise me when you see what they can put out there and how hard those guys play — Marcus Smart, damn,” he mentioned. “But they’ve had some very nice wins, and the fact they have stayed up with Hayward out is big. You really didn’t know what to expect from Hayward this year, but with the way he was playing, you figured they’d miss him a lot when he went out. If you look closely at their games, they actually have missed him, but they’ve still found a way to grind out wins.”
As a lot because the evaluators are impressed with what they’ve seen, just about all agree it’s going to take deal extra for the Celts to have success within the postseason.
“We turn in our reports on them now, and no question the coaches will go over it before we play Boston,” mentioned one. “However how a lot can you actually undergo with our gamers when you might have only one apply or a shootaround to go over issues with them. And most of that point goes to be spent engaged on our stuff anyway.
“That changes in the playoffs. You’re definitely more tuned in to who you’re going against. Whoever Boston plays will be more ready for what they do. But if they keep playing like this, you know for sure they’re at least going to be a very tough out.”