Saturday, November 23, 2019

How the Celtics fill a void following Kemba Walker's neck injury

The Celtics will be looking to fill a void following following Kemba Walker's neck injury during the team's 96-92 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Boston will have to dig deep into their limited point guard lineup, as Walker supplies so much on both ends of the court and his loss, at least for the immediate future, will be a test of team-resiliency.

While the Celtics really do have a shortage of pure point guards, coach Brad Stevens has used Brad Wanamaker in that role for the last two games, and that has worked fairly well. Even though most analysts don't regard Marcus Smart as a pure point guard or a pure-anything for that matter, he does calls himself a "stretch 6," and that has fit him this season. But all that aside, Smart is a very good facilitator that takes care of the ball and is currently the at the top of the NBA's ranking when talking about assist-to-turnover ratio for players averaging more than 24 minutes per-game.

G-League point guard Tremont Waters could to be brought up from the Maine Red Claws as another option in Walker's absence. Waters is on a two-way contract, and this is as good as a time as any for him to see some time with the Celtics main roster. He is thriving in the G-League, but this is an opportunity to see how that translates to the pros. Even as a rookie, Waters supplies a little bit of Gordon Hayward's craftiness on the hardwood, which shows he does not lack NBA-level skills.

Carson Edwards is another rookie that could be asked to play the point guard role. Edwards has already logged some time at that slot, but it may be his scoring prowess that the Celtics need most from him. In the end it will most likely come down to Smart and Wanamaker to pick up most of the slack as Walker sits out at least a few games. With Boston now missing two of its core guys in Walker and Hayward, things will get tough, but this roster seems to be built to weather most storms.

Early reports on Walker's condition are fairly good, though Marcus Smart might have raised some concerns stemming from Team USA this past summer. Apparently, Walker dealt with a neck issue during FIBA World Cup play and now the Celtics medical staff will be looking into that, along with what happened Friday, to determine what course will be taken.

We will keep you posted on any and all Walker updates as he makes his return to the court. In the meantime, here's to a rapid and complete recovery.

Tom Lane

Photos used are courtesy of Getty Images

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