The 2020-2021 season has been underway for about a month now and so far I’ve been having so much fun watching the Boston Celtics. Maybe it is the way Jaylen Brown has been improving, maybe it is seeing role players thrive in their roles, or maybe it is just seeing new players play in Celtic green—regardless the Celtics are fun to watch. While their roster is relatively similar to last year’s, they feel a lot different.
This change could be due to Jaylen Brown’s emergence as an all-star. Brown is currently leading the Celtics averaging 27 PPG while consistently playing amazing defense. He always had the defense, but he can now score at will from anywhere on the floor. He has been scoring from all over the court, especially in the mid-range where he has become one of the best mid-range shooters in the league. This offensive explosion makes all the difference for the team, because it opens the floor for Tatum, Walker, or even Smart to get easier shots.
The Celtics have also seen a lot of production from their role players. Payton Pritchard in particular has been a pleasant surprise. As the twenty-sixth pick in the draft, Celtics fans weren’t sure what they were getting, but what they got was a great backup point guard who can score the ball in many different ways. Pritchard started the season playing a lot of Kemba’s minutes while recovering from his knee injury, but since then has played himself into a regular rotational role, even scoring the game-winning layup against the heat. Unfortunately, he went down with a minor MCL injury against the 76ers. According to NBC Sports Boston, he should be returning in two weeks.
Something else worth mentioning is the impact that Tristan Thompson has on this team. While his rebounding stats are not otherworldly, Tristan brings a lot of energy in that area. When he is on the floor the defense is active. However, when he is on the floor with Theis, the team struggles to score, because neither player can scare defenses from the three-point line.
Thompson was one of the new players the Celtics picked up over the offseason, the other being Jeff Teague. Jeff Teague hasn’t been great this season only averaging six PPG, but this is expected from a guy entering his fourteenth season in the NBA at the age of 32. Despite his sub-par play, signing it was far from a risk. On a two million dollar deal, Teague can hit some valuable three’s to stop a run or catch the other team off guard.
As of right now, the Celtics are 10–6 and tied for second in the east with the Milwaukee Bucks. This is very promising when you consider that Kemba sat out the first 12 games due to a knee injury, and Tatum missed five games because of COVID-19 protocol.
All this being said, it will still be an uphill battle for the Celtics if they plan on competing for a championship. The East hasn’t been this competitive in a long time. The Celtics have to face some tough competition: The Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers who are currently the one seed, and the Milwaukee Bucks who have a two-time MVP and defensive player of the year. Not to mention teams like the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, and Indiana Pacers who are good enough to steal a series if you’re not careful.