Baynes, Celtics among the NBA's best in defensive rating
Though the Celtics have gone back and forth between starting Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes depending on matchup, Baynes has really made the best of being tasked with locking down the paint against teams with talented big men. Baynes' effort, energy, and toughness are not always qualities that generate gaudy numbers in the box score, but there is one highly reflective advanced statistic that showcases the Aussie's impact; defensive rating.
Detroit Pistons interior stalwart Andre Drummond leads the NBA in D-rating at 98.6, with San Antonio Spurs role-player Kyle Anderson coming in second at 101. Baynes is right on his heels in third-place at a stellar 101.1. The fact that Baynes is receiving just $4.3 million from the Celtics this year for his services while being close behind a star like Andre Drummond ($23.8 million on multi-year deal) for the top spot in the category further emphasizes his immense impact while playing on a team-friendly value contract.
Baynes' defensive rating of 101.1 this season is the best mark of his career, topping his previous best of 103, which he reached twice during his tenure with the Spurs. But Baynes isn't the only Celtic playing the best defense of his life. He isn't even the only green-teamer in league's top-10 in defensive rating; Terry Rozier (101.2), Al Horford (101.3), rookie Jayson Tatum (101.5), and Jaylen Brown (101.9) join him near the top, meaning half the top-ten leaders in the statistic are Celtics. These five players, among others, have led the Celtics to a league-best team defensive rating of 102.82.
The Celtics have adopted a brand of defensive basketball in the absence of Gordon Hayward, and it has led them to one of the best records in the league around the halfway mark of the season. They will look to build on this momentum throughout the remainder of the regular season and beyond.