Projecting Jayson Tatum, Celtics Stars' Ceilings and Floors for 2022-23 NBA Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBAFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 1, 2022

Projecting Jayson Tatum, Celtics Stars' Ceilings and Floors for 2022-23 NBA Season

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

    If this iteration of the Boston Celtics wasn't already established as an NBA elite, last season certainly did the trick.

    The Shamrocks wobbled through the first few months, then floored the gas pedal in mid-January and didn't let off of it until they had made their first Finals appearance since 2010. While that run fell two wins shy of a title, the takeaway was obvious: Boston is ready to win—and win big.

    Still, the Celtics, like every other club in the championship chase, need to catch several breaks if they hope to realize their dreams during the 2022-23 campaign. Beyond staying healthy, they need to nail a few best-case scenarios with their top performers and avoid any flat-out flops.

    To get an idea of what that could look like, we're here to establish the ceilings and floors for three of Boston's most critical contributors.

Malcolm Brogdon

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    Ceiling: Makes All-Star debut

    Stardom might initially seem like a reach for Brogdon, whose two-way versatility makes him a perfect fit in a complementary role. Having said that, he was one of only a dozen players to average at least 19 points, five assists and five rebounds in each of the past two seasons, per Stathead Basketball, so it's not like his stat lines are far away from star-quality.

    He has to stay healthy, though, and that's been a challenge throughout his career. Beyond that, he needs to find consistency with his outside shot (31.2 percent last season, 38.8 the year prior) and find enough touches on this fully loaded offense to catch All-Star voters' attention.

    There isn't an impossibility in that list, though, so Brogdon has a shot.

    Floor: Can't stay healthy, doesn't stick in Boston's closing lineup

    Brogdon played 75 games in his rookie season and hasn't topped 64 appearances since. He made a career-low 36 appearances last season, which marked the second time in five years that he failed to play 50 games.

    If injuries have the 29-year-old in and out of the lineup, the Celtics could seek a more consistent presence to establish a rhythm with their closing group.

Jaylen Brown

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    Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    Ceiling: Earns first All-NBA selection after improving handles, playmaking

    If the 25-year-old Brown isn't already in the heart of his prime, he must be close to it. That means we've probably seen something close to his full potential, although his dribbling and distributing have obvious room for improvement.

    If he can make himself more of a live-dribble threat—both as a scorer and a table-setter—that could be the last layer to unlock in his skill set.

    Throw in his typical efficient shooting and versatile defense, and you could have the ingredients of his first All-NBA selection.

    Floor: Regresses as shooter, shows no improvement as shot-creator

    After splashing a career-best 39.7 percent of his long-range looks in 2020-21, Brown saw his three-point hit rate fall to 35.8 percent this past season. It was the second time in four years that he has failed to shoot 36 percent from range. Those percentages may not sound a lot different, but it's a range that basically separates a league-average shooter from a knockdown marksman.

    His career 37.3 three-point percentage suggests he could go either way, so mediocre accuracy is by no means out of the question. He also isn't guaranteed to grow as an off-the-bounce scorer or as a playmaker, so he could run into the same issues that have brought about his worst moments in recent years.

    Brown will be a good player regardless, but he could go a second consecutive season without an All-Star selection.

Jayson Tatum

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    Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    Ceiling: All-NBA first-teamer and MVP finalist

    Tatum is awesome, especially when you remind yourself he's all of 24 years old. We haven't seen his best yet, and he just snagged All-NBA first-team honors while landing sixth in MVP voting.

    Still, he could make improvements with his shooting efficiency and playmaking, and if he makes those strides, everything is on the table. He'd be a lock for All-NBA first team and no worse than a top-three finisher in MVP voting.

    Floor: Turnovers increase, three-point percentage drops, left off All-NBA teams

    Over the past three seasons, Tatum has been an All-NBA first-teamer, an All-NBA third-teamer and an All-NBA snub. If Boston isn't as good as expected, and he isn't as efficient as he can be, it's possible he'll go without an All-NBA nod.

    The forward ranks should be loaded with all-galaxy talents like Kawhi Leonard and Zion Williamson returning to action, so the All-NBA roster spots will be brutally hard to get.

    If Tatum isn't on the top of his game—he wasn't always last season, particularly early on—he'll struggle to stay in that discussion.


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