Report card, part 1 of 2: grading the Boston Celtics’ starters

It seems like the season simply began, but by some means, it is already 1/5 of the method via.

The Celtics are undeniably the hottest, and finest, group in basketball. They’ve received 9 straight, to maneuver to 13-3 total, and are displaying no indicators of slowing down anytime quickly.

Whenever a key participant is out, one other key participant steps up and fills the void. The stars have performed like stars, their fellow starters have been glorious sidekicks and the bench is sort of probably the prime reserve unit in the NBA.

Having stated that, there’s all the time room for enchancment. Here’s a take a look at what every starter has completed nicely thus far and what they’ll enhance upon shifting ahead.

Jayson Tatum: A

Giving Tatum something aside from an A would merely be unfair. He’s been the finest participant on the finest group in the NBA and is a respectable contender for MVP.

He’s began all 16 video games and is averaging 30.3 factors, 7.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 blocks and 0.9 steals. He’s arguably the most full and well-rounded participant in the league and has taken his sport to the subsequent stage this season.

Tatum zeroed in on what he wanted to handle this offseason. His ending capacity, determination making and sport administration have all improved considerably. Even when he is off (by his requirements), he manages to have an effect on the sport in different methods. He’s a famous person in each sense of the phrase. A tip of the cap to you, sir.

Jaylen Brown: A-

Brown is posting career-best marks in factors (25.3), rebounds (6.9) and assists (3.5), whereas capturing a career-high 49 % from the flooring. He’s excelling defensively, is an especially robust cowl and sometimes appears to ship a well timed bucket when the Celtics want it.

He would get an A, however the unlucky actuality is that his turnover woes have not slowed down. In truth, they’ve gotten worse. He’s averaging 3.3 per sport, which is the worst mark of his profession and the 14th-highest complete in the NBA (in equity, he is sandwiched between LeBron James and Kevin Durant). He coughed it up seven occasions in opposition to the Pelicans on Friday – his second seven-turnover sport in the final six outings. That ain’t gonna minimize it.

It’s necessary to notice that he has the ball a ton, so it is pure he’d flip it over greater than a job participant. At the similar time, he must proceed to work on valuing each possession and never falling for the entice defenses set when he beats his man off the dribble. Don’t take the bait. Wait for the play to develop and make the easy, right studying. He’s totally succesful.

Marcus Smart: B+

Smart has firmly established himself as one of the finest passers in the NBA, interval. His playmaking capacity has improved considerably over the previous few years, and anybody questioning whether or not he is a respectable start line guard on a contender clearly does not watch the Celtics a lot.

On the flip facet, he is capturing simply 29.2 % from 3-point vary, which is his worst mark since 2016-17. His protection additionally hasn’t been fairly at the stage it was final yr. Granted, that is a tough bar to match, and it’ll possible enhance as the season unfolds, however he isn’t fairly wreaking havoc on that finish like he did throughout his Defensive Player of the Year season.

He nonetheless has a shot at the award, however he isn’t the favourite proper now. The Celtics are 14th in defensive ranking (though they’re bettering), and Smart is as succesful as anybody as serving to that quantity proceed to development in the proper route.

Al Horford: A-

It’s fairly unimaginable what Horford is doing, and other people actually in all probability aren’t speaking about it sufficient. It’s straightforward to take it as a right, nevertheless it’s fairly commendable that he is placing up 11.5 and 6.9 an evening on the finest group in the NBA at age 36.

Horford is capturing 56.3 % from the flooring and 47.5 % from 3-point vary. Although these numbers will possible go down a bit, the common development may be very sustainable. Teams have to fret a lot about Tatum and Brown that Horford is commonly the beneficiary. He makes defenses pay over the over once more together with his trademark excessive launch and follows it up with a quarter-smirk.

His 2.2 3-pointers per sport is a career-high as nicely, and he is enjoying extraordinarily constant basketball. The solely purpose he does not get an A is as a result of he is appeared a step sluggish on protection at occasions. Just a step, nevertheless it’s noticeable in sure moments. It’s not his fault, it is simply actuality. He’s had an incredible season thus far.

Derrick White: B+

(*1*)White is making an attempt to tip the scales right here together with his current scorching capturing, but total, he is been strong however not nice. Malcolm Brogdon’s absence has really helped him get again right into a rhythm, as he is scored in double figures in every of the final 5 video games.

Before that, he did not rating in double digits in eight straight video games and appeared timid at occasions. White’s worth extends far past his scoring, and his playmaking has been constant all through, however the Celtics are a much more harmful group when he is recurrently placing the ball in the basket.

He’s capturing 45.2 % from 3 on the season, which is sort of commendable, nevertheless it seems like he has some moments the place he is aggressive and others the place he blends in and passes up high-percentage pictures. The Celtics want him to persistently be aggressive like he has been in the previous few video games.

Grant Williams: A

Williams, who has began seven video games, has established himself as one of the finest function gamers in the NBA. His up-fake, side-step 3 is deadly – assume Kareem’s hook or Duncan’s financial institution shot (this can be a joke; don’t be concerned). Defenders must respect the shot and shut out, and he both side-steps or drives by them after they accomplish that.

He’s placing up 10.1 factors, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per night time – all profession highs by a landslide – and is capturing a career-best 57.8 % from the flooring and 48.2 % from 3. Let that sink in for a second. This is the similar Williams who missed his first 25 3-point makes an attempt. Twenty-five!

He’s come a good distance and deserves rather a lot of credit score for diversifying his sport. He’s a weapon as a shooter, a driver, and finisher, a passer, a rebounder, a defender and a hustle man. Now he simply has to cease complaining to the refs a lot, however he does not get any demerits for that.

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