With 20 games left in Celtics regular season, here are the players' grades
The Boston Celtics season is more than three-quarters complete, and the team sits in second place, behind the Toronto Raptors, in the Eastern Conference. The following grades are based on how much each player has contributed compared to what was expected prior to the season.
Kyrie Irving: A
He came to the team with only a few question marks attached, but he has fit in with his teammates and he has done so quickly. He is the only Boston player that can be counted on night after night to put up a lot of points on the board.
Gordon Hayward: Incomplete
Gordon never got a chance to show us what he can do as a Celtic this season. One thing is for sure. He would have taken nothing away from the team's stellar defense and would have added much in offensive punch. He will be close to irreplaceable once he takes the floor.
Al Horford: B-
Al does a bit of everything on the floor, but I wish he could score a few points more than the 13 PPG he is averaging this season. And he can get manhandled by the bruising centers, but his defense, playmaking and overall team play earn him the B-.
Jaylen Brown: B
Brown still needs to work on his ball-handling, finishing drives and foul shooting, but he has advanced more than I anticipated this season. His outside shooting has improved, and his defense (with an occasional lapse) is very solid.
Jayson Tatum: B-
Jayson came out of the gate on fire early in the season, but his play has subsided somewhat of late, and thus the B- instead of a B or B+. The decline in his play may be the result of a finger injury, the rookie wall or opponents learning to guard him more effectively. But he is an undeniable talent.
Aron Baynes: C-
With Baynes-ey, you know what you are getting. Very limited offense with no long-range shot and questionable effectiveness down low. You know he will play 16-17 minutes and score 5-6 points with a like number of boards. You also know he will play hard and provide solid team defense. But we all wish he could hit a few more of those bunnies under the basket. He would have been due for a C+, but his play has declined slightly of late.
Marcus Smart: B-
The recent defensive stats initiated by the NBA may help explain how such a reckless shooter can be so valuable to his team. I am leaving the picture frame punching out of the equation since ironically, it may have an eventual positive impact on Marcus and the team. Many may feel this grade is too high, but his value to the team has been revealed by his absence, so he gets the B-.
Terry Rozier: C+
Terry seems to thrive with the first unit, getting 30 or so minutes per game. He did fine in Smart's absence, but his increased production does not translate well to the second unit and less playing time. He and Smart are quite similar in that they both play tough, tenacious defense but can be inconsistent on offense. One of the two may be destined for a trade this summer, realizing that Smart's would need to be a sign-and-trade situation.
Daniel Theis: B
Daniel is simply a guy that goes out on the floor when called upon and plays to his capacity all of the time. No drama. No whining. He is better than I expected, and thus the B grade. He is relentless under the basket on both offense and defense. He never gives up on a rebound and will jump repeatedly to snag the ball. His size, mobility and willingness to do whatever is needed make him an absolutely solid defender. The icing is the fact he can hit very well from beyond the arc to open things up for his teammates. He eventually needs more floor time.
Semi Ojeleye: C+
Semi was expected to be a 3-and-D guy. The "3" isn't there yet, and that is why he got the C+. But the "D" part of his game is well-past rookie level. He has one of the most solid physiques in the League and can slide his feet to guard any opponent of any size. That is why he is averaging roughly 20 minutes a game for the past 10 games and holds the 118th ranking in Defensive Rating in the NBA.
Shane Larkin: C+
Shane goes into the game if the pace and enthusiasm need a boost. And he does very well accomplishing that. He has proven he can play in this League, and there will be future games this season where his entry into a game will turn things around in the Celtics favor.
Marcus Morris: C
I actually was hoping for a little more from Morris than he has shown thus far, but the Celtics need his size and scoring out there. Boston has had trouble putting points on the board, and Morris can do that.
Abdel Nader: B-
Usually, the best G-League players become end-of-the-bench guys in the NBA, and that is what has happened to Nader. And he has shown he belongs in the Big League when he gets the infrequent calls to action. He is somewhat better than I expected, thus the B-.
Guerschon Yabusele: C-
I have to cut Yabu some slack. He is a rookie after all and needs time to adjust to the NBA game after playing in Europe. But I did expect a slightly more accomplished level of play from him, and hopefully that will come about with more floor time.
Greg Monroe: Incomplete
It simply is too early in the process to grade Greg's performance as a Celtic. He is admittedly having a few problems fitting into Boston's system, and a bit of patience is needed. Once properly acclimated, there will be games where his value is quite obvious.