Where do the Celtics sit in ESPN's preseason rankings? And who should be their "breakout candidate"?

Early this morning, ESPN released its annual training camp power rankings of all 30 NBA teams and the Boston Celtics sit in a pretty good spot despite lowered expectations as compared to last year.

Jayson Tatum could be primed for a career-defining season this year. Photo via Mark J. Rebilas
Currently, they sit at 9 on the list just behind Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors and one spot ahead of Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. Last year at this same point in time, the Celtics were at number 2 on the list once again behind the Warriors. Obviously, that didn't really work out so take this year's list as you please. This is how the entire top ten turned out:

1. Los Angeles Clippers 
2. Milwaukee Bucks 
3. Philadelphia 76ers 
4. Los Angeles Lakers 
5. Houston Rockets 
6. Denver Nuggets 
7. Utah Jazz 
8. Golden State Warriors 
9. Boston Celtics 
10. Portland Trail Blazers 

I think this is a pretty solid group when you're talking about the top ten teams in the league. However, I would rearrange them starting with the 76ers. Now, this could just be the Celtics fan in me, but three!?!?! The Philadelphia 76ers at number three in the power rankings after getting knocked out in the second round last season, losing arguably their best player in Jimmy Butler as well as a ton of their 3 point shooting???? They're definitely a top ten team, there's no argument there, but three is just too high for them at this point in time, especially when you have teams like the Lakers, the Rockets, and the Nuggets behind them. I will admit, they have the potential to be a top-three team by the end of the season if everything goes well for them, but putting them there now before seeing anything productive is too much.

As for the rest of the list, the Bucks could drop a little for me and the Lakers and Rockets could move up. Other than that, like I said before it is pretty solid.

With all of that out of the way let's get to the Celtics. I actually think this is a pretty fair spot for them and the situation they are in right now. However, I am fully expecting them to make at least a small jump on the list as the season goes on. With all the change that has happened over the summer, it is very hard to tell what the team will look like overall next year, even though a lot of us Celtics fans know what we have to work with is pretty exciting.

Now, had ESPN left them out of the top ten altogether then I would have been massively disappointed. But I respect the decision at #9 and look forward to seeing if the Celtics can outlast it. 

One other quick thing to note about the list is that the writing team included their predictions for every "breakout candidate" on each roster. In other words, the players capable of having a big breakout year and as well as a jump to a bigger role in the NBA.

Entering his sophomore season, Robert Williams III is one of the biggest x-factors for the Celtics' success next year.  Photo via Elsa
For Boston, the team's breakout candidate was none other than Robert Williams, who many have looked at as one of the x-factors for the success of the entire team. The main argument made for his candidacy revolved around former Celtic all-star big man Al Horford, who left in free agency this summer as well as a gap in the teams' roster.

With the tiny glimpses of talent we saw from Williams in his limited play last season, we know that his potential is high and with the big man role right in front of him, he could reach it sooner rather than later. Despite this being only his second season, this could, in fact, be the year for him to make his place known throughout the league.

But what do you think of all of this??? What are your thoughts about the list altogether??? Are the Celtics ranked too high, too low, or just right??? And who do you believe is the breakout candidate for Boston this season??? Let me know in the comments down below.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.