The Celtics earned plenty of respect around the league following an unlikely trip to the NBA Finals last June. Those performances along with some offseason additions have built their case as potentially the deepest team in the NBA entering the 2022-23 regular season even after losing Danilo Gallinari to a torn ACL.
The team got more ammo for that label on Tuesday after ESPN unveiled their top 100 rankings for NBA players for the 12th season. The voting was done by a panel of 200 reporters, editors, producers and analysts that were asked to rank players on their predicted contributions for the upcoming season.
The full list will be released in full later this week but the rankings of players No. 100-26 were revealed Tuesday and Boston tops the list with representatives in the top 100 with seven different players making the cut. Here’s a full list of players that earned the distinction, along with their ranks
No. 99: Grant Williams
Analysis: This is the first appearance in the rankings for Williams who had a career year on both ends of the floor last season. He showed his value on the postseason stage with his contributions on defense against Giannis Antetokounmpo and he will be looking to build on that in a contract year.
No. 87: Malcolm Brogdon
Analysis: He dropped 22 spots from last year in the aftermath of an injury-plagued year with the Pacers. His offensive skillset and new role as the sixth man off the bench for Boston make him a prime candidate to jump back into the top 50 with a strong season.
No. 70 Al Horford
Analysis: A half-season off with Oklahoma City set the stage for his bounce-back season in Boston, allowing him to take a gigantic jump back into the top 100. I’d argue this spot is a bit too low given his defensive value and stretch ability but a drop-off may be anticipated as he enters his age 36 season.
No. 58 Robert Williams
Analysis: When healthy, his impact goes far beyond No. 58 overall but the big question for him will always be his ability to stay on the court. He is going to miss training camp due to knee surgery according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com
No. 34 Marcus Smart
Analysis: A huge vote of confidence by voters in Smart who topped emerging young stars like Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley in the rankings after securing his Defensive Player of the Year value. Boston’s offensive thrived with Smart running the point full-time last season and he will try to build on that while helping maintain Boston’s top-level defensive attack.
TBA in top-25: Jaylen Brown
TBA in top-25: Jayson Tatum