On Monday, Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics clinched their spot in the NBA Finals for the second time in three years with a narrow road win over the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. While the Celtics did not exactly play dominant basketball against (stop if you've heard this before) a team playing without their best player this series, Tatum and his teammates still were able to at least alleviate some of the concerns about their crunch time offense by winning three close games.

The hero in Game 4 was Derrick White, who knocked down an open corner three with under a minute remaining off of a feed from Jaylen Brown. White has been hugely important to the Celtics' success over the last three years, and recently, New York Knicks forward Josh Hart dropped an eye-opening take that might stir some controversy.

“I might put, just like, impactful, I might put Derrick White (as) more impactful that (Tatum),” said Hart, via the Pivot Podcast (per ClutchPoints on X, the social media platform formerly referred to as Twitter). “Look at every main play in the last six minutes of the fourth to overtime. Every big play he made. He's probably one of the most impactful players because he does just everything on the court, and does everything at a very high level.”

White indeed does not have a clear weakness in his game, as he is at least above average, if not better, at shooting, passing, dribbling, and defense, and is also the best shot-blocking guard of his generation.

Is Derrick White better than Jayson Tatum?

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) react to a play during the first quarter during game four of the eastern conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports


While White is indeed a very good player, it must be considered that he is generally being matched up against the opponent's either fourth or fifth best defender on a nightly basis, meaning his shot quality is a lot higher than most others around the league in his position, which can inflate his efficiency numbers. White also has much more leeway to roam on the defensive end of the floor and put himself in position to get blocks in help defense due to the fact that he is consistently on the floor with four other elite defenders, a luxury that most other role players around the league don't have. This logic, combined with a talented field of players, was likely what kept White out of the All-Star game this year besides a fringe campaign ignited by the Boston media in the weeks leading up to the announcement.

Tatum, meanwhile, is consistently guarded by the other team's best perimeter defender and, like White, also has no identifiable weaknesses in his game. The difference lies in the fact that, at 6'9″, Tatum can get to the rim and score much easier than White (or most anyone else in the league for that matter), and also has a post and transition game that few other players bring to the table.

However, it's safe to say that the Celtics wouldn't be nearly as good as they are without either one of Tatum or White.