BY TAYLOR SNOW & MARC D’AMICO
The ball-handling position is arguably the most important role on the basketball court.
These are the players who are responsible for facilitating the offense and controlling the pace:
The C’s will have a new floor general running the offense this season, as three-time NBA All-Star Kemba
Walker as is set to take the reins. Walker, who is already established as a New England sports legend after leading
UConn to the 2011 NCAA National Championship, will become a Boston fan favorite in no time, thanks to
his electrifying offensive skill set and endearing personality.
The 6-foot-1 point guard is coming off of the best season of his career with averages of 25.6 points, 5.9 assists,
4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game during his eighth campaign with the Charlotte Hornets. Having played
in all 82 games, Walker ranked third in total points scored (2,159), field goal makes (731) and minutes played
(2,863), fifth in 3-point makes (260), and 10th in free-throw makes (380), all of which helped lead to his first
As talented of an athlete as Walker is, his most valuable asset may be his character. He earned the 2017 and 2018
NBA Sportsmanship Award, which is given annually to a player who “exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship
on the court with ethical behavior, fair play, and integrity.” That type of lead-by-example approach from a star
player is something that should benefit the Celtics’ locker room this season and beyond.
The Celtics may have one unique asset that no other team in the league would: an All-Defensive First
Teamer coming off the bench. Leading Boston’s second unit, once again, could be the one-of-a-kind defensive
mastermind, Marcus Smart.
After years of wreaking havoc against opposing offenses, Smart finally earned his first All-Defensive nod last
season, while also earning the most Defensive Player of the Year votes among all guards. One of the contributing
factors that allowed him to take a step forward in the voters’ eyes was his improvement in the steals department,
as his 143 snags placed him third in the league behind Paul George (170) and James Harden (158).
With that being said, Smart’s most promising leap was on the offensive end, where he saw his shooting
percentages skyrocket. The 25-year-old guard shot 51.1 percent from inside the arc and 36.4 percent from
beyond the arc, which were both sizeable increases from his previous career marks of 42.2 percent and 29.3
percent, respectively. He also saw his turnover rate drop from 2.4 per game to just 1.5 per game, which indicated
growth a BALL HANDLER s both a ball handler and a decision maker.
116 BOSTON CELTICS YEARBOOK 2019–2020