Where do the Toronto Raptors rank in the Eastern Conference?

Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Marc Gasol (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

5. Boston Celtics

What was anticipated to be a chaotic offseason in Boston has some far rung true. The Celtics lost out on Kyrie Irving, who decided to join the Nets after a nightmare two seasons in Boston. Danny Ainge and co. knew for months that Irving would be on his way out of the team.

However, no one really expected the Celtics to replace him with Kemba Walker. That one came as a shock. Walker signed a 4-year $140million max contract with the Celtics at the beginning of free agency and will make almost as much in his first year with the Celtics as he did in his whole tenure with the Charlotte Hornets. Good for him.

Going in the other direction is Terry Rozier, who was paid $56million by the Hornets, because…reasons. The Celtics did well by avoiding to pay Rozier that themselves, so that counts as a victory.

What doesn’t count as a victory, though is the loss of Al Horford — more on his landing spot later. Horford was the defensive anchor of one of the best defensive teams in the league during his time with the Celtics.

Boston replaced Horford with Enes Kanter, who is a great rebounder and finisher around the rim. In terms of the value that Horford brought to the table, though, there’s no comparison. Kanter has never projected as a great rim protector, averaging 0.4 blocks per game in his career. Kanter is an obvious downgrade vs a center like Horford, who can switch out onto the perimeter defensively.

At 26 years of age, he still has room to improve and under the tutelage of Brad Stevens, it’s definitely possible.

Besides that, the Celtics still have a roster full of talent that could well develop into All-NBA talent. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown occupy the wing spots and Marcus Smart looked like one of the best defenders in all of the NBA last season, they could be great.

Ainge knocked it out of the park in the draft too, picking up Grant Williams, Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards, and Tremont Waters all in different spots. All could potentially play a role for the Celtics this season.

Losing Al Horford and Kyrie Irving is just too big to ignore, though.