One of the big stories in the NBA this summer is the lack of participation in the upcoming FIBA World Cup by some of the league’s top players. And, while the choice to not play by many of the game’s elite may hurt Team USA’s chances at winning the title, it could have an interesting impact on one team in particular. That team is the Boston Celtics, who are poised to have a large contingent on the national team thanks to the decision by many to sit out.
Four Celtics players have been a part of the training program for Team USA as the team looks to make its final player selections out of who is remaining in the player pool. Those players are Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and new Celtic Kemba Walker. Regardless of how many of them play a role for the team in the World Cup, that time working together in the offseason is undoubtedly beneficial when a new star like Walker is set to join a squad.
From a basketball betting perspective, it will be worth keeping an eye on how this early teamwork affects the Celtics readiness for the regular season. With so many players changing teams this free agency period via signings or trades, the Celtics may be able to avoid some of the growing pains that newly assembled rosters in Los Angeles and Houston may have to endure. This could make NBA picks for the Boston Celtics a high-value proposition in the opening weeks of the 2019-2020 campaign.
Of course, it is also possible that all of the work that the four Celtics are doing with Team USA could serve as a detriment to the Celtics early in the season. Along with the potential for injury while playing with the national team, those four key players could come into the regular season fatigued relative to players who chose to stay away from World Cup responsibilities. While camaraderie is a plus, a slow start could still come if a deep World Cup run tires several Celtics out.
And, while those four key players build their camaraderie together, the Celtics still have plenty to figure out from a personnel perspective. The loss of Al Horford will go overlooked by many bettors after all of the high-profile player movements over the summer, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens has already acknowledged the need for the team to change the way it uses its big men in light of his departure. This means that there may still be growing pains to be had for the Celtics, but they just may come from sources other than Kemba Walker.
No matter how the Celtics start the 2019-2020 season, the World Cup and its prep period will be an interesting look at how things may shape up for the Celtics and for NBA bettors in the upcoming season. With how wide open the Eastern Conference is heading into the year, the Celtics could emerge as a value play to win the conference if Walker and his Team USA teammates can start building momentum and sustain it from the summer into the season.