There is no greater rivalry in basketball than that between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
East Coast vs West Coast. The two most successful franchises in the NBA. And two distinctly different styles of basketball and rostering. Where the Lakers lean into the glitz and glamor of Hollywood – in search of as many superstar names as possible, the Celtics build through guts, hustle and a will to develop their own stars wherever possible.
Neither road to competition is better than the other, of course – both have spawned 17 championships over the years. And now Boston and Los Angeles are racing to win Banner 18 and regain bragging rights over their most famous opponents.
“It’s important to me to finish what he (Jerry Buss) started. Which should have the most championships in the NBA. We’re linked with the Celtics now. I need to get number 18 before they do,” Buss said during an episode of the latest Lakers documentary: The True Story of the LA Lakers.
Interestingly, it’s the Celtics who are closest to winning Banner 18, having been just two games away from an NBA championship last season, only to improve their roster over the summer and currently as one of the true Goliaths in to be considered by the NBA. While the Lakers exited the playoffs in the first round in 2021 and missed the 2022 playoffs entirely despite having three superstar players on their roster.
Boston might be viewed as the more complete team between them and the Lakers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas where the front office can’t improve. With that in mind, it’s widely expected that Noah Vonleh, who was with the team during training camp and pre-season, will be handed a full-time contract with the team before the start of the new season.
On October 7, Vonleh got a chance to shine for the Celtics when he started their game against the Charlotte Hornets in center position – something he thanked Boston for by dropping and contributing to a double-double performance to lead his team to a 112-103 victory.
“(Vonleh) finally showed how his open play can be used in an offense that won’t get him a clearance at the high post. Vonleh had a couple of athletic finishes after the jump, showing he can be aggressive to get into spots where he has leverage without flipping the ball.
That gives him a distinct advantage over Mfiondu Kabengele when it comes to earning minutes on the five, especially given that Vonleh’s defensive intensity and positioning looked much better on Friday. With Kabengele already on a two-way deal, Vonleh seems to have the inside track in the 14th squad spot,” The Athletic’s Jared Weiss wrote on Oct. 7.
However, should the Celtics decide to add Vonleh to their 15-man roster, it would mean the Celtics have six big men under contract and that could be seen as overkill – especially if Robert Williams is back to full health.