Power Ranking Celtics Roster Based on Regular-Season PerformanceApril 7, 2022
Power Ranking Celtics Roster Based on Regular-Season Performance
The Boston Celtics have at times ranked as one of the 2021-22 NBA season's biggest disappointments and at others one of its most dominant teams.
Robert Williams III's torn meniscus puts a strange (and sad) twist on things, and it's unclear what his absence could mean to Boston's championship hopes. If nothing else, though, these Shamrocks at least gave us all a thrill ride.
We're here to partially recreate that journey by ranking every player on the roster based on his performance this season.
Unranked: Matt Ryan, Malik Fitts and Nik Stauskas
Ryan hasn't seen NBA action since inking a two-way pact in late February, while Fitts and Stauskas have logged a combined 31 minutes. There's not enough data to draw any kind of conclusions about this trio.
13. Brodric Thomas
Thomas hasn't broken much of a sweat either (48 minutes in 10 games). Nor has he offered much of an argument for more floor time.
12. Luke Kornet
In very limited action (nine games, 50 minutes), Kornet has used his 7'2", 250-pound frame to provide a paint presence with reliable finishing and activity on the glass.
11. Aaron Nesmith
Celtics fans are still awaiting the arrival of the sharpshooter Nesmith was billed to be ahead of the 2020 draft. The 14th selection that year, he has seen his shooting rates crater to 39.8 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from range.
The Middle Class
10. Sam Hauser
Hauser hasn't had a ton of chances to impress (23 games, 125 minutes), but he has made the most of what's been given to him. The Celtics want size and shooting on the wings, so they have to be happy with the 6'8" rookie's 41.7 percent connection rate from range.
9. Payton Pritchard
Pritchard faces no shortage of defensive challenges as a 6'1" guard with non-elite agility, but he adds enough offensive value with spacing (41.2 percent from distance) and ball control (1.9 assists against 0.6 turnovers).
8. Daniel Theis
Theis looks like he's back on a bicycle since returning to Boston, as the transition to his former team has seemed effortless. The Celtics have basically been a buzz saw for most of his tenure, but they have still fared 4.8 points better per 100 possessions with him than without, per NBA.com.
7. Grant Williams
If there weren't such a crowded field for the Most Improved Player award, Williams might sway a few voters his direction. His numbers are up across the board, including significant spikes in scoring (7.9 points per outing) and three-level shooting (48.1/41.8/89.9).
6. Derrick White
The Celtics sacrificed a 2022 first-round pick and a future pick swap to prise White from the San Antonio Spurs at the deadline, and they have been counting their winnings ever since. It would help if his jumpers fell more often (39.7 percent shooting, 28.6 percent from distance), but even without that, he's been a big help as a secondary playmaker and versatile defender.
The Best of the Bunch
5. Al Horford
When Horford skipped town in 2019 free agency, he left a Horford-sized hole in this frontcourt. It turns out that he's still the right person to fill it, as his smarts, passing and defense have helped him perform a critical role for this club despite having his worst three-point shooting season in years (32.6 percent).
4. Marcus Smart
Smart's shooting limitations remain, but he is great enough on defense (and good enough as a distributor) for the Celtics to fare 4.3 points better per 100 possessions with him than without, per NBA.com. He has a real chance of being the first guard to win Defensive Player of the Year since Gary Payton was crowned the top stopper in 1995-96.
3. Robert Williams III
Williams inked a four-year, $54 million extension before the season and subsequently leveled up in a way that will have his contract listed among the NBA's best bargains for years to come. He is a consistent finisher around (and above) the rim and a slick passer, and his versatile, disruptive defense is about as good as it gets.
2. Jaylen Brown
Brown's shooting rates have slightly declined since last season, but he remains one of the best co-stars in the business. He could still perk up his three-point shooting and playmaking, but there are very few weak spots in his well-rounded skill set.
1. Jayson Tatum
Tatum took a minute to warm up, but once he did, both he and the Celtics started breathing fire. He has gone supernova over the past two-plus months, averaging 29.5 points on 50.3/40.0/87.2 shooting, plus 7.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists (against only 2.6 turnovers) since Jan. 23. He won't take home the MVP, but he will have the voters' attention.