The Celtics have rebounded from a disappointing season last year and returned to the top of the league. So far many players are blowing past expectations. But at the same time, a couple are also failing to reach the mark.
All three of these players were expected to improve coming into this year, but they advance even further past what was expected. They are key members of the team, the driving force behind this season’s impressive success.
Tatum took the leap we all were expecting him to make, except he’s improving to become arguably the best player on the roster. His scoring numbers improved drastically, yet he still manages to have similar assist numbers to last year. His rebounding has taken a step up, and his defense went from just passable to an asset.
Jayson is top 20 in steals and 12th in defensive win shares, a drastic improvement. The fact he is at the moment top 20 in scoring in the league goes to show his two-way value. He appears as a solid contender for an All-Star spot, and is not the only one on the list to boast such an opportunity.
Brown’s steady improvement has finally taken the step into stardom. His scoring as a whole has taken huge strides, with career-best efficiency and points per game numbers. His passing and defensive game have stayed relatively the same, despite many believing those categories would improve. But his rebounding has taken a huge leap as well, making up for the Celtics big man deficiency.
Jaylen’s game was expected to improve slightly across the board, with no huge leaps or regressions. While there is no regression in play, there are huge jumps in key areas. It appears that at the moment he is comfortably in the race for an All-Star spot, as the east only has three shooting guards that could be considered at his level or better. At the moment, it looks like the large new contract handed to him by Danny Ainge was a far better deal than originally thought.
Hayward seems to have regained his All-Star form for the first time since his infamous injury. His hand injury is nothing compared to the struggle he previously went through, and he should take over right where he left off when he comes back soon. This season looks to be the best one of his career, besides his All-Star season in 2017. His scoring is at its greatest peak, with efficiency unmatched league-wide.
But that is not all, as he is having his best playmaking and rebounding year of his career. While his defense appears to have dipped a bit, it should become stable by the end of the season. He probably won’t be an All-Star this year, but his comeback gives hope for what is to come.
Unfortunately, it is common for people to overvalue rookies and players who are just joining a new team. It is hard to predict how a player will react in a new scheme with new teammates, which is mainly what happened to these two underperformers.
The Celtics were able to grab Kanter in free agency for only $5 Million a year, which appeared very team-friendly. But so far this season he hasn’t brought the same rebounding and scoring ability he has had since the 2014 NBA season.
Enes has been struggling with injuries since the start of the season, which might explain the slow start. But that is not a good enough excuse to explain how a casual 13 point, 9 rebound guy turned into a 7 point, 6 rebounder with only slightly less playing time. Enes will probably move closer to his past numbers as the season goes on, but people expected him to have one of the best seasons in his career.
Carsen Edwards looked like a potential steal when taken early in the second round after averaging 24 ppg at Purdue. And after a very successful summer league, he looked prime and ready to step into the void left by Terry Rozier. But so far this season, he hasn’t looked anywhere close to Rozier, and even lost the backup role to Brad Wanamaker.
While Carsen’s rebounding and defense are solid for his relative size, his passing could certainly use some help. He appears to have the tendency of throwing up bad shots instead of relinquishing control of the ball. This results in a bad shooting percentage from all areas of the court, other than the free-throw line. As Edwards matures he will become better with his shot choice, but for the next year or two, he will most likely continue the bad practice. He still has a great amount of potential, but this year he has not lived up to the hype.