Celtics show new depth as part of hot start
Forsberg: Celtics show new depth as part of hot start originally appeared NBC Sports Boston
Just five months ago, the Boston Celtics he leaned heavily on an eight-man core as he navigated a grueling run to the NBA Finals. trainer Making Udoka He seemed reluctant to go deeper despite his team running on fumes at the end of the playoff run.
Perhaps one of the most encouraging aspects of Boston’s start to the 2022-23 season has been the team’s ability to confidently lean on as many as 12 different players. And this despite operating without big men Robert Williams III i Daniel Gallinarithe last of which was brought in this summer to bolster Boston’s bench.
Boston’s depth was highlighted Monday night when, with Al Horford resting on the second night of an entourage and Boston’s other big offseason addition Malcolm Brogdon Sidelined by illness, Boston didn’t miss a beat while leaning on depth pieces.
The topic of this week’s Forsberg Four segment Celtics publication (Tuesday night, 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston) focused on the unsung heroes who have played a key role in Boston’s early season dominance.
It’s a luxury when someone likes it Payton Pritchard, one of last year’s eight contributors, is now a 10th or 11th man. Still, he probably saved two wins (against Oklahoma City and Sacramento) on his energy alone. Monday night in Toronto, 33 years old Blake Griffin took the baton and gave an unexpected spark north of the border.
Let’s dig deeper into the numbers:
7.6: That’s the average number of days between appearances for Griffin over his last five starts. Griffin, who is averaging four DNPs per start this season, is basically on a football schedule while suiting up once a week. But it’s hard to argue with returns.
Through his four starts, Griffin is averaging nine points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 71.4 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. In his last two appearances, he has produced three back-to-back dunks including an alley-oop tomahawk finish against the Hornets who almost do Mfiondu Kabengelehis head exploded.
When Griffin isn’t grabbing one-handed rebounds that delight Boston’s bench or taking a tough load, he has an arm around Pritchard’s shoulder telling him to stay ready.
He is clearly practicing what he preaches.
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Adding veterans may or may not work out for championship-caliber teams. A guy like Griffin could long for his old superstar ways or rage for a sporadic role. Quite the contrary, he has embraced every part of his unique role in Boston and is making a legitimate impact on this team’s title quest. Will he play in the postseason? Maybe not. But you know he’ll be ready whenever called upon.
LESS-3%: Here’s what opponents are shooting inside 10 feet this season when he defends them Sam Hauser.
That’s remarkable considering how rivals have stumbled to go to Hauser. Only in the last two games, Kevin Durant i Pascal I’m sorry both have driven Hauser in isolation and failed to get the most out of it.
Now, Hauser hasn’t been perfect. But he uses his size and competes. The Celtics have a 105.4 defensive rating during Hauser’s floor time and that’s the best mark among regulars (also by nearly three points).
Additionally, Hauser allows just 0.92 points per possession while defending in isolation. That’s the team’s third-best number behind him Jayson Tatum (0.73) and Derrick White (0.88). In fact, if you break it down to all players who defend at least 1.5 shutouts per game, Hauser is eighth overall in the NBA. (Now, James Harden it’s also in the top 8, so remember the small sample sizes).
38: This is the number of screen assists this season Luke Cornet.
For a Boston team missing its best screener in Williams III, Kornet is a welcome sight for all of Boston’s ball handlers. Those 38 screen assists are a team high, four more than Al Horford, who has logged 370 more minutes than Kornet this season.
Kornet uses his 7-foot-2 frame to help Boston’s players create space, and they’ve taken full advantage of it. As the team relies heavily on spacing and ball movement to generate good looks with their first unit, the addition of a bruise detector has gone a long way in helping the bench groups generate consistent points .
Kornet has often paired with Pritchard to add a jolt of energy to the floor. Boston’s rebounding is also in line with Kornet, including an 8% jump in offensive rebounding rate during Kornet’s floor time.
Even better, Kornet needs no touches of its own. He settles for a feast of rejections and wide-eyed looks. He is scoring 148.1 points per 100 shot attempts this season, which ranks in the 99th percentile among all big men, according to data from Cleaning the Glass.
6: That’s how many of Boston’s best three-man lineups (minimum: 200 minutes of floor time) feature Derrick White.
White has been a beloved analyst throughout his career, but the way Boston thrives no matter who he’s paired with helps improve his ability to positively impact the team. Whether White starts or comes off the bench, good things happen.
White is one of the main guys, so we’re conflicted by lumping him into a story that highlights deep bench players. But the bigger point here is that White’s impact often flies under the radar despite his larger role.
The Whites are NBA quarterbacks who are in charge of taking. He is second on the team behind only Horford in total shots contested. NBA tracking data shows he spends seven percent of his floor time guarding centers and another 33 percent on forwards, demonstrating his versatility.
If you want to have a fun discussion with your Celtics-watching friends, ask which Boston player would be the team’s third All-Star if someone other than Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum made the play. Marcus Smart he would deservedly top this conversation, but you can also make a good case for White or Malcolm Brogdon. The Celtics are spoiled for point guard depth right now.
And depth in general.
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