Disclaimer: The grades will be based off of how well they have played so far compared to how well they were expected to play. These grades aren’t meant to be compared to each other, they are more of individual evaluations.
Statline: 26.6ppg/6.8rpg/3.9apg/.9spg/.8bpg, 47.7 FG%/44 FG3%/87 FT%, 34 minutes per game
Well one of the biggest questions going into this year was "can Tatum could take that next step to being a superstar"? Well he is most certainly getting there. After watching last year’s playoffs you were able to tell that Tatum has become “that guy” for the Celtics without a doubt. That role adds a lot of pressure to the game, but Tatum has been able to handle it.
So far he’s earned a career high in points and assists, which would make sense because he has the ball a lot, but these improvements have been noticeable in his game. On the scoring end, he gets to his spots quickly and with ease. His mid-range and short range fadeaways have been his go-to this year and they are tough to guard. His reliability at the three point line has been key this year as well. I think his improvement in his passing has been noticeable, he has a better idea of how to read a team’s defense and we’ve seen him pass the ball in scenarios where he previously would’ve taken a bad shot. He does force bad passes sometimes and make questionable plays on the offensive end, but overall he is one of the most dominant offensive players in the league and he’s maturing well.
The part that really adds value to Tatum’s grade this year is how shitty the Celtics play without him. It’s been a problem all year. During his absence the Celtics went 1-3, with one of those losses being a 75 point dud against the Knicks. You know that with Tatum in the lineup, he will take a lot of shots, but he is good enough to bail the Celtics out when they are in scoring droughts.
Despite how well he’s been playing, I think he can be even better as the season goes on. So far he has done what has been expected of him plus a little more. The biggest thing we’re gonna need from him is to be our closer. He has hit 2 game winners so far which is great, but I want him to be cold-blooded in fourth quarters and just be able to take over games when we need it. Overall, he’s been awesome and a key part to the Celtics success. Grade: A-
Statline: 27.1ppg/5.4rpg/3.5apg/1.4spg/.6bpg, 53.1 FG%/44 FG3%/75 FT%, 33 Minutes per game
The biggest brightspot on the Celtics this year has been Jaylen Brown, by far. Everyone was wondering what kind of a jump Jaylen was going to make this year, and it looks like it’s the jump to All-Star level. It kind of surprised me I’m not gonna lie, but I’m all in on Jaylen this year.
Statistically, basically every part of his game has improved. He has become a lethal scorer from all areas. He can pull up on you at mid range, catch and shoot threes, weave through offense and lay it up and especially score in transition. He is making any shot he takes look like a quality shot. He’s using his superior athleticism and strength to his abilities and getting his way against most defenders. Him and Tatum are making similar progress in the playmaking game, as I constantly see Jaylen make passes that I didn’t think he was capable of making. Honestly there’s not much to criticize about his game. I would say his team defense could use some work, but I believe that’s more of an effort thing.
Here’s the question for Jaylen regarding the rest of the season: can he sustain this level of play? If you watch him play, he gets to where he wants for the most part, it’s just will he continue to hit mid-range shots at a high percentage because he shoots a lot of those. But for right now, Jaylen has been incredible. He is one of the best scorers in the league right now and I don’t think anyone would’ve seen that coming. He is playing at an elite level and is shattering expectations. Grade: A+
Statline: 14.3ppg/3.2rpg/4.2apg/1.7spg/.2bpg, 37.3 FG%/29.3 FG3%/85 FT%, 24.8 Minutes per game (only 6 games)
The focus for Kemba right now is getting back to how he normally plays and planning to make it through a whole season and playoffs. He says he feels great so far which is good, but it hasn’t translated into his play yet.
I’m glad he at least looks like the player that we know, but his offensive woes are real. He shot 1-12 last night against the Lakers, missing the game winning shot. The previous game against the Spurs, the game was on the line and Kemba got the ball stolen away from him to lose that one as well. He is clearly still shaking off the rust, but it’s definitely been costing us. It’s fine to be a little hard on him because he should be shooting better if he is getting good opportunities, but at least the hustle and effort have been there. It’s a good sign that he’s being active on the defensive end and trying to be as impactful as he can despite some offensive struggles.
Kemba will always be great because he has such positive energy off the court. He needs more time before we start jumping to conclusions. It’s not fair to blame a guy for rough performances after he is trying to recover from an injury that was clearly affecting him all of last year. The last thing we need is for Kemba to get down on himself. It might still take a while for him to start scoring consistently at an efficient clip, but we just have to trust that he will get better. Grade: C+
Statline: 13.1ppg/2.8rpg/6.1apg/1.8spg/.5bpg, 39 FG%/31 FG3%/85 FT%, 32.3 Minutes per game
Again, thank god that Marcus is okay after that scary incident against the Lakers. He is only going to miss 2-3 weeks with a calf strain after what almost looked like an Achilles rupture. His role on the team has always been important, but this year it has grown.
We know how Smart is as a player already in terms of defense and hustle. He has still been the team's best defender and a vocal leader on the team. His defense this year has still been great, both 1-1 and team defense, but his focus has changed a little bit this year. He now has a large part of the offense as well. He is the primary ball handler on offense and has become an offensive leader. He organizes plays, makes sure teammates are spaced out and he excels in the pick and roll. He has been able to pick up this bigger role on offense while still being the defensive beast that we know.
His shooting still hasn’t been all that great, but he makes timely buckets. The biggest thing about him that is different from the last few years is that I haven’t been seeing as many “winning plays” this year. Those will probably come in due time though, for now let’s just hope for a speedy recovery. Grade: B
Statline: 9.7ppg/5.1rpg/1.2apg/.6spg/.9bpg, 62 FG%/38 FG3%/76 FT%, 23.2 Minutes per game
Theis has had a sneaky good offensive year. He is shooting the ball very efficiently, leading the league in 2-point percentage (72%). He is very good at spacing himself on the floor, he does well in the pick and roll game and he hits a good amount of his open jumpers. He’s always someone who hustles on both sides of the court, plus his versatility adds value. I think he has been better than Thompson so far, but the problem is that Theis isn’t actually a center. He will most likely be the smaller guy in every matchup with a center, which will be an issue down the road. That’s more of a personnel/coaching thing. But, he has done well with the role that has been given to him, so there's not much to complain about.
Statline: 5.9ppg/8.4rpg/.8apg/.3spg/.6bpg, 44 FG%/64 FT%, 22.2 Minutes per game
Thompson was someone who was supposed to come and make an impact in a few ways. Rebounding, defense, energy and leadership is what I was expecting out of the 29-year-old. So far he has brought the rebounding and maybe the leadership behind the scenes. But he hasn’t really helped the Celtics "center problem". I expected him to slow down other teams centers on defense but his defensive play has been underwhelming. It’s not like he’s getting cooked all the time, but he’s just not really making an impact on the defensive end, while we have an impactful center on the bench in Rob Williams. On the offensive end he’s not doing much either. His go to shot is like a ‘5 floater and it’s not reliable. Shooting 44% from the field when only shooting close range shots is concerning. Thompson also preached about all the energy and toughness that he will bring to the team, which I haven’t seen yet. It hasn’t been a great quarter season for him, but I won’t grade him that low because he is at least getting rebounds and he still needs time to learn his role considering he was hurt all pre-season. His impact could come later in the season when depth becomes more important. Grade: C-
Statline: 5.8ppg/1.9rpg/2.3apg/1.1spg/.2bpg, 32 FG%/41 FG3%/87 FT%, 18 Minutes per game
Jeff Teague isn't doing what I thought he would be. I thought he’d be a guy to drop 12 off the bench most nights, but he has not been that guy. The best part of his game this year is that he will get a nice steal every now and then that could be a shift in momentum. Everything else has been disappointing. On the offensive end he constantly slows down the offense by being indecisive and holding the ball for too long. He can get by people a good amount but he just can’t finish around the rim for some reason. He is shooting 14% from the 0-3 foot range. He’s an NBA player who can’t hit layups. I’m hoping that will change, but if not his spot will most likely be up for grabs real soon. Grade: D
Statline: 6.2ppg/6.2rpg/.8apg/.9spg/1.5bpg, 75 FG%90 FT%, 15.5 Minutes per game
Timelord is a talent that is not being used as much as he should be. He might be one of the most impactful players on the team. Every time he is out there he is doing something that makes him stand out. He is a defensive pest by always contesting shots with his 7’6 wingspan and has active hands while players drive the paint. His team defense has been the problem in the past, but I don’t think it has been that bad of an issue this year. On the offensive end, he does well in the pick and roll and being in the right place. He looks like he is maturing as a player and with such ridiculous athletic ability, it should be time to give him more minutes. The risk of playing him more is low and the more experience he gets the better he will play. It’s only a matter of time before he starts. Grade: B+
Statline: 7.7ppg/2.4rpg/2.6apg/.9spg/.4bpg, 49 FG%/42 FG3%/90 FT%, 20.9 Minutes per game
FastPP has been a wonderful surprise this year. Ever since the first few games, it was clear that Pritchard was a fit in the NBA. He was a four year guy at Oregon, so he was obviously a more mature player compared to other rookies. He impacts multiple aspects of the game and he brings that spark off the bench that we may have lacked previously. He is a great ball handler, a solid shooter and a good playmaker. On the defensive end he plays very aggressive defense. Before he got injured, he actually earned late game minutes and even hit a game winner against the Heat. He’s already earned the trust of Brad Stevens and his teammates and I’m sure everyone is happy to have him back in the lineup after dodging a long term injury. Grade: A-
Statline: 5.3ppg/3rpg/.7apg/.1spg/ 0bpg, 41 FG%/36 FG3%/71 FT%, 17.9 Minutes per game
Semi has had a slightly above average year I think. He’s had his moments, but overall he’s still the same old Semi. He does have a career high in points that are skewed by a couple games where he scored a lot in junk time, but hitting 36% of three point shots is probably around what I was looking for from him. His stats don’t show how valuable he is on defense, because that’s the part of the game that gives him minutes. His strength, toughness and hard work lead to him being a great on ball defender against most 2-4s. Other than that he’s kind of just there a lot of the time. He still has some tough sequences on offense where he looks confused. He gives decent minutes most of the time with his high-floor value. I would eventually like to see his minutes go to someone else, but for now he’s playing well enough to keep them. Grade: C+
Statline: 3.7ppg/1.7rpg/.4apg/0spg/ .2bpg, 32 FG%/31 FG3%/71 FT%, 12.8 Minutes per game (only 9 games played)
We haven’t seen that much of Nesmith yet, but I can’t say that he hasn’t had his opportunities. Anytime he has an open three he takes it, which is fine as long as he works on his shot more. I expected him to be shooting way better than he is right now, but you can tell his first few games he was still kind of nervous and jittery, but that’s changed recently. He looks like he’s starting to feel more comfortable. When he has been in the game recently, he’s been hustling so he will hopefully earn consistent minutes soon enough. Grade: C-
Statline: 4.7ppg/3.1rpg/.7apg/.5spg/ .3bpg, 42 FG%/41 FG3%/42.9 FT%, 17.4 Minutes per game
Grant has had a weird start to the season. He’s the only player that sometimes starts games, then sometimes play 0 minutes. I still have a lot of faith in Grant because I think his ceiling could be Draymond Green, but he still has a long way to go. So far he basically looks like the same player as last year, except his shooting has been better which is huge. I like to think he has the versatility to defend almost anyone on the court, but he has struggled on the defensive end so far. I think he will eventually find a consistent role once Brad Stevens figures out how he wants to manage the bench. For now he's going to need to find a way to gain seperation from the other bench players. Grade: C
Statline: 5.6ppg/3.4rpg/.7apg/.9spg/ .1bpg, 50 FG%/20 FG3%/65 FT%, 17.2 Minutes per game
I like what I have been seeing from Javonte Green. It’s not necessarily because he has gotten more skilled since last season, but because his skill set is being used the best way possible. Javonte’s superior athleticism gives him a spark plug role off the bench. It’s usually a steal and dunk off the break or something like that, but he always brings noticeable energy. Other than that his skill set is pretty expendable, so his minutes could be given to someone who brings a little more in the future. For now I like what he has been doing and having him seems necessary. Grade: C+
Carsen/Tremont/Tacko/Romeo: Not enough to evaluate
This has been a tough year for Brad to manage, but I can’t say he’s done the best job. The positives that I have seen from him so far is that his after timeout plays are back on track. That was the type of stuff he has been known for, but last year I wasn’t impressed by his playcalling after timeouts. But lately, he has been drawing up some great plays out of timeouts and in general. He has also gotten better with his timeouts. Sometimes he still doesn’t call a timeout early enough, but I feel like he has gotten better at knowing when to call them.
I can’t help but think that the Celtics being unable to close out games and giving up big runs to opposing teams falls on his shoulders. I think it may have to do with the lack of discipline toward his players. When teams go on large runs against the Celtics that’s usually because of poor defense and rushing their offense. You would think if he disciplined the team better, those long runs by other teams wouldn't happen as often. He is also still doing a poor job with roster management this year. I know he is still experimenting with lineups and it’s early and all that, but there are times for that, but sometimes he just puts out the worst lineups at the worst times. I also don’t get why he isn’t playing Robert Williams more when he is clearly getting better and could be valuable. This has been a problem for a while for Brad.
Things will most likely turn around for the Celtics, but it’s been tough lately and Brad is the easiest person to blame. He is staying optimistic and showing that he has faith in a lot of his guys, which is a good sign for the future of this season. Grade: C