The Boston Celtics are the betting favorites to win the NBA Finals. But before they arrive on basketball’s biggest stage, they’ll have to go through an Eastern Conference ripe with talented bigs such as Joel Embiid and Brook Lopez. Frontcourt reinforcements could be needed.
A trade for the San Antonio Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl could put the final piece of the C’s championship puzzle in place, and provide Robert Williams III with some significant help.
Through 38 games this season, Poeltl is averaging 12.3 points and 9.2 rebounds while shooting 63.3% from the field. The Australian’s 7’1 frame makes him a solid addition to a feisty Celtics roster that currently ranks 8th best defensive rating.
The Spurs are asking for two first round draft picks in any trade involving Poeltl, and the Celtics are reportedly prepared to offer an unprotected 2028 first round pick according to Spurstalk. Boston also owns 2024 and 2025 first round picks.
At present, Beantown is relying on Robert Williams III, Al Horford, and Luke Kornet to anchor the paint. Horford and Williams III were both major components of the Celtics 2022 playoff run. Though they lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, they would not have made it nearly as far without solid play in the paint. Even so, Time Lord’s injury and Horford’s age made it difficult to stop the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second round.
All things considered, last year’s playoff run combined with this season’s prosperity makes it clear that Jakob Poetl could be the piece that officially places the Celtics over the top. The pure physique and veteran depth Poeltl offers makes him a smart addition. Make no mistake, the trio of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum is more than capable of leading the C’s in a deep playoff run. But, having an elite level of big man depth will push Boston past those gunning for the East crown.
Antetokounmpo and Embiid are the prime examples of why having someone like Poeltl is so critical from a defensive standpoint. While both “The Process” and “The Greek Freak” can have good days from the mid-range, they are each more intent on slashing towards the paint and finishing at the rim. Williams III and Horford have both dealt with injuries, and while they would both stay healthy in a perfect world, it is completely possible they will face adversity before the end of the regular season. If the Celtics were to trade for Poeltl they’d be getting an elite player to aid the second unit at best, and a more than serviceable 7-footer to man the middle if either Horford or Williams III momentarily goes down. Poelt’s build offers another body that the C’s can confidently use to defend.
Such an addition is not foreign to the Boston Celtics. After losing in the 1985 NBA Finals, they acquired the legendary Bill Walton. “Big Red” was a pivotal component of the 1986 Celtics championship team precisely because he added depth behind Kevin McHale and Robert Parish while also improving the play of the team’s second unit. While the game has drastically changed since the 80’s, and no one would be foolish enough to compare Poeltl’s skillset to Walton’s, there is something to be said about adding a veteran big man who can also pull some offensive weight to a team that is on the brink of glory. Poeltl has proven he can be an offensive weapon and has been able to shoot 66.7% from the field over his 6-year career in the association.
The Boston Celtics could be a Jakob Poeltl away from being back in the NBA Finals this June.