A Rising Celtics Team Promises Success in the Future

Jacob Bronstein and Mohammed Arham

Danny Ainge, along with the Boston Celtics management, have reached a point where their decisions for the team are starting to fall into play. From their draft picks in 2015, to their trades and signings this offseason, the organization has developed into a young and potentially threatening team in the National Basketball Association (NBA). With superstars in the making like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, alongside the veteran point guard Kemba Walker and a strong supporting cast, the Celtics have cemented their spot in the Eastern Conference and the league as a championship contender.

Selected with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Jayson Tatum has become what Boston needed to elevate themselves as a franchise. Last season Tatum was awarded many accolades, including being named the Eastern Conference player of the month last February and making his first appearance in the NBA All-Star Game. Adding on to those accolades, Jayson Tatum also made the All-NBA third team. In the ten games he played this season, Tatum has averaged 27 points in under 35 minutes of play. He has developed into a lethal shooter beyond the arc with his ability to score over a variety of defenders. In the games against Detroit and Milwaukee, Tatum scored two game-winners, displaying his abilities in the clutch. As long as Tatum continues to grow into the superstar that Boston needs, his newly extended five-year contract will be completely worth it. In an interview, Tatum’s mom responded to the extension by saying, “He wants to not just say that he played here his whole career, but that he brought the city of Boston a couple of banners and his number is retired. I’m certain he would love that,” showing that Tatum intends to stay in Boston for the long run.

Jaylen Brown is also a major component of the Celtics future. With three years still left of his current contract, Brown has developed into one of the league’s top mid-range shooters, with a season FG percentage of 53.9%. This makes him the third-best in the league for shooting guards in his area. He shoots 64.5% from 16-24 feet, which is exceptionally effective since he is one of the primary offensive players for the Celtics. On the defensive end, Brown has exhibited his ability to block shots and put pressure on the ball. He has established himself as one of the best two-way players, and has found himself a contender for the NBA’s most improved player award. His growth this season has prompted Coach Brad Stevens to comment, “It’s certainly gotten a lot better, just his reads and everything else,” adding, “He’s just really improved, worked hard to improve.” Being only 24 years old, the amount of time Brown has to evolve is a promising sign for Boston, and a scary sign for the rest of the NBA. 

A strong supporting cast is necessary for the success of the Celtics this season.

As seen throughout professional basketball, the point guard position is a crucial piece to a team’s composition. Currently, the Celtics have Kemba Walker, a veteran point guard who spent most of his career as the face of the Charlotte Hornets. As of now, Kemba is coming off of a recurring knee injury, which has sat him out for the start of the season. Hopefully for Boston, Walker will be able to return to his all-star level presence on the court. Unfortunately, if these injuries keep occurring, the Celtics might have to look elsewhere for a new point guard. 

Even if Walker recovers from his injuries, a strong supporting cast is necessary for the success of the Celtics this season. Beginning with the center position, Boston possesses Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III. Although Coach Stevens has been giving a majority of minutes to Theis, he has begun transitioning to the younger and more prospective center found in Williams III. With an increase in playtime, Williams III has shown constant improvement. This season, he’s averaging 6.8 points and 6.5 rebounds in 16.4 minutes of play which is an improvement from last season when he averaged 5.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 13.4 minutes of play. While on paper the improvements might look minimal, it indicates a consistent growth for Williams III. If this continues, Williams will take over the role of the aging Theis.

Marcus Smart is entering his 7th season with the Celtics at 26. The area in which he excels is defense. For the past two years, Smart has been a part of the All-NBA defensive first team, making him one of the top five defenders in the NBA. Furthermore, he has shown improvement in his three-point percentage and overall playmaking skills. With three more years in his contract, including the current season, he will prove to be a valuable asset for this championship-contending team.

In the ten games he played this season, Tatum has averaged 27 points in under 35 minutes of play.

Additionally, Danny Ainge has done a commendable job of collecting a few minor players, such as Tristan Thompson, who was acquired as a free agent from Cleveland this offseason. Thompson has a lot of experience in the NBA, including winning a championship with Lebron James. His comprehension of playing with superstars will prove crucial in Boston, playing alongside both Tatum and Brown. Regarding his prior team and his transition to the Celtics, Thompson said, “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of that, so for me to be able to share my wisdom from what I learned from Bron [LeBron James] and pass on to these guys is what the NBA is about.” His notable skills include his offensive rebounding and unselfish playstyle. Payton Prichard is another minor player who has proven to have potential. Chosen with the 26th overall pick in 2020, he has shown his prowess while substituting for Kemba Walker. 

For the foreseeable future, the franchise is guaranteed to have some success. Even if what Boston already possesses does not fulfill their championship aspirations this season, they still have moves they can rely on next offseason, including the $28.5 million trade exception they acquired from the Hornets in the Hayward sign and trade.