After a chaotic offseason filled with drama and suspensions, it seemed as if controversy would cloud the Boston Celtics’ entire 2022-23 season. On the court, though, the Celtics have ignored the turmoil, holding an impressive 8-3 record.
So far, the Celtics have avoided the dreaded NBA Finals hangover. While their defense could use some work, the offense has been on fire, as Boston currently holds the league’s best adjusted offensive rating.
Through games on Nov. 9, how has your favorite NBA team fared on both ends of the floor during the 2022-23 season? pic.twitter.com/DFoE3a7wEk
— NBA Math (@NBA_Math) November 10, 2022
But who’s made this team an offensive juggernaut? It’s early, but let’s grade the performances of Boston’s key players and look at how they’re faring in the young season.
Jayson Tatum: A
Jayson Tatum has taken last year’s NBA Finals loss personally, because he’s been on a tear this season. He’s putting up an outstanding 31.2 points per game and toppling franchise scoring records.
Most points thru the team’s first 10 games of season in Celtics history
1. Jayson Tatum – 298 pts*
2. Sam Jones – 295 pts
+ – game still in progress
just piling up the points
— Boston Sports Info (@bostonsportsinf) November 8, 2022
And not only is Tatum scoring, but he’s also doing it efficiently. The Celtics superstar has shot an impressive 49.8% from the field, and he’s done it against solid defensive teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls. He’s also made adjustments to his game that have worked to his benefit.
The talented forward has tried to drive and get to the line more, and it’s paid off. In a win over Chicago, he took a career-high 20 free-throws, and during a recent victory against the Memphis Grizzlies he was awarded 16 shots from the charity stripe. If he can continue to penetrate, the scoring opportunities will come and the rest of the Celtics will thrive as a result.
So far, it’s been a nearly perfect start for Tatum, yet he hasn’t even hit his peak. He gets an “A” for now, but the Celtics standout is still capable of something greater, which should make Joe Mazzulla and company excited for the future.
Jaylen Brown: A-
The thunder to Tatum’s lightning is Jaylen Brown, and he’s also dazzled on offense this season. The former All-Star is averaging 25.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per outing, well above his career averages for those categories (16.5 points and 4.9 rebounds).
Brown and Tatum are scoring in droves for the Celtics, and it’s put them in some legendary company.
Jayson Tatum & Jaylen Brown (15 games) now rank 3rd-most by any pair of teammates who both scored 30 points on the same game in the last 30 years and are just behind:
-Kevin Durant & Russell Westbrook
– Kobe Bryant & Shaq
(via @ESPNStatsInfo) pic.twitter.com/PlZWArtOGx
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 10, 2022
This duo showed what they were capable of during the 2021-22 playoff run, but Brown hasn’t scored as efficiently as Tatum. Moreover, he’s averaging 2.9 turnovers per game, which is slightly worse than his 2.7 average during last year’s regular season.
Brown’s upside is remarkable and like his partner in crime, he hasn’t hit his ceiling yet. But to elevate his game to a superstar level, Brown will have to do a better job of handling the ball.
Malcolm Brogdon: A-
The newest addition to the Cs has made a name for himself in Beantown. While Brogdon is coming off the bench in a way he isn’t fully used to, he’s been playing well in that role.
Brogdon’s minutes are down so his averages don’t stack up with his past numbers, but statistics aside, he’s been everything Boston has needed. The former Pacer defends well and pushes the ball effectively, often dishing out great passes.
Look at Malcolm Brogdon. pic.twitter.com/uIuPZNoRH2
— Pull up shoot (@NElGHT_) November 10, 2022
Brogdon’s skill on both ends of the court cannot be undervalued, so once he gets healthier it wouldn’t be shocking if he joins the starting lineup.
Marcus Smart: B+
The vocal leader of the Green Team has played similarly to how he traditionally does. He’s been solid on defense but occasionally frustrating on offense, taking a fair amount of 3-pointers that hit inconsistently. The longest-tenured Celtic is shooting an ugly 26.7% from deep, but he’s made up for it in other ways.
Through 11 games, Smart is averaging 7.0 assists and 1.6 turnovers per game. For someone who often facilitates the offense, his assist-to-turnover ratio is especially commendable. If he can rein in his shot and continue to do what he does defensively, there’s no reason to worry about the reigning DPOY.
Sam Hauser: A-
The aforementioned Celtics are players who were expected to contribute during the 2022-23 season. Hauser was a bit of a wildcard, but he’s made the most of his minutes this year.
In Boston’s win over the Detroit Pistons, the former tw0-way player hit six triples and posted a career-high 24 points. It’s not an insane stat line, but speaks volumes of Hauser’s development and how he can fit in with the Cs.
With a reliable 3-point shooter who has a hair-trigger release, Boston’s offense can reach new heights. It’s unlikely that Hauser ends up in the starting lineup due to his suspect defense, yet his remarkable 53.3% from deep makes him a key addition to the normal rotation.