After starting the year with amazing success, the Celtics team are starting to show their youth. Despite their recent struggles, here are things that I’ve seen that have me excited.
Swirving Irving (Not a bad nickname Scal)
I think Irving is figuring out our offense. Since he got back from his facial fracture, Irving is averaging 31 points per game on 53/46/88 shooting. He is still learning to manipulate the defense and think one step ahead, but his scoring has been better than hoped for. Now that teams are doubling him on non-Horford pick-and-rolls, I’ll be interested to see if he can read the defense and get teammates easy baskets.
Olejeye is figuring out the game quickly. Twice recently he has almost posterized a defender with a powerful dunk. He gets down into his defensive stance and cannot be backed down. He gets tips. He gets rebounds. He gets verticality. The painful thing is that he is shooting 32/27/59 for the year so far. He shoots confidently, but is definitely struggling with consistency. What a nasty defender and athlete to have as a backup wing and small-ball big for the next 4 years on a rookie contract!
Is quickly becoming the best young two-way wing in the NBA. He takes over multiple possessions on defense a game with his quickness, ability to slip screens, length to contest, and havoc-wreaking hands. He has played like an All-NBA defender this year so far.
I see improvements in him game-by-game. His confidence with the ball in the pick-and-roll game is getting to point guard levels. His little mid-range pullup shot is money. Other than Kyrie, Rozier is the most likely to go on a 11 point scoring run by himself. When he rebounds well, it energizes the entire team on both sides of the ball.
If Theis ever figures out how to defend without fouling, he will be a 15 million dollar a year guy. His pick-and-roll feel, defense on the perimeter and post, rebounding, and activity are great. If his shot starts to fall (and he has been a good shooter in the Euroleague), we become an even more deadly team.
Honorable Mentions: Al Horford is awesome. Jayson Tatum is in a funk — can’t wait to see what one off-season of workouts can do for his game. Marcus Smart is losing confidence by the game, but still helping us win. Baynes is 100% Aussie. Get healthy, Morris and Hayward.