Boston Celtics: Report card grades for C’s forwards in 2021-22

These 3 Boston Celtics starters are out tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
These 3 Boston Celtics starters are out tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /
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The report grades are in for your Boston Celtics team and in the second part of our series, we will be doling out grades to the C’s forwards. Previously, the Houdini dished out grades for all seven qualifying guards.

To qualify, for a grade a player needs to have a part of Ime Udoka’s rotation at some point in the year. This is not limited, we have guys that did not even finish the season in green and white. The criteria vary for each player based on how they performed and what the expectation was from the fans at the start of the campaign.

The scales range from an A-plus for astonishing to an F for failure. These Celtics will be judged based on their complete play throughout the season, not just how good they were at their peaks or how bad they were in their valleys.

This year was an absolute roller coaster experience for the players, coaches, and fans. Expect nothing less from a wide range of different marks.

As we know, the start of the season for the Celts was atrocious for them to fall as far down as 11th in the East, which is good for lottery-bound, possibly missing the play-in tourney.  After the new year, the Cs underwent a 360-degree change in performance.

Big props to coach Udoka for steering the ship and weathering the storm.  He maximized the talents on both ends of the court to turn the Boston Celtics into an Eastern Conference powerhouse, and not just any.

Boston wielded the best defense and ninth-ranked offense by season’s end.

These are the grades for the Boston Celtics forwards for the 2021-22 NBA season!

The Boston Celtics starters

Jayson Tatum

Where do we begin in what was a tale of two halves for Boston Celtics superstar wing, Jayson Tatum? He started the season with uncharacteristic inefficient shooting performances, a heavy amount of isolation play, and very slow starts in games while looking completely disinterested defensively.

No need to harp on these words for too long because it’s not about how you start, it’s how you finish. Tatum finished the season cementing himself as a top 10 NBA player and possibly top-five MVP candidate.

How did he do it? Tatum completely changed the way he viewed, impacted, and played this beautiful game of basketball.

The changes began on the offensive side of the ball, the game dramatically slowed down for the 24-year-old, he was making the right reads off of double teams instead of turning the ball over.  The forward made it a point to finish at the rim through contact and not continuously settle for jump shots.

He knew when to pick his spots in mismatches and go into takeover mode with his effortless scoring touches. Also, when to defer to his teammates, if they had a better shot, then he would draw the defense and kick it out to a three-pointer or swing the ball to the open man on the perimeter. The growth, maturation, and evolution of becoming the most complete version of himself offensively.

Now, on the defensive end, he would not shy away from the tougher individual assignments, he would dive for all those 50-50 balls to keep possessions alive. Tatum used his length to his advantage with strong closeouts on three-point shooters, hustling back to erase shots off the rim, and setting the tone on the hard end of the floor. Amazing at picking off opponents in the passing lanes and converting those turnovers to easy transition points on the fast break.

It was yet another career-year for the All-NBA bound forward who averaged 26.9 points, eight rebounds, and 4.4 assists, all career-highs across the board. He will not come out of these report cards with a perfect grade because even JT feels he would have been the clear-cut MVP had he started the season as well as he finished it.

The expectation for a talent of Jayson Tatum’s magnitude should be MVP awards. Tatum just needs to do it for 82 games.

Grade: A

Al Horford

What do you call a 5x NBA All-Star big man aging like a fine wine?

A simple answer: you call it Al Horford!

The big man has not lost a step on either end of the floor, all while being a foundational piece on what is a championship contender and arguably the best front five in the association.

At age 35, in his 14th NBA season, many critics pondered if he can still make a valuable contribution to the C’s after not-so-great seasons with OKC and Philly. Big Al for his age for nothing short of spectacular and the off-season trade to bring him back has Brad Stevens looking like a genius!

Horford brings a sense of calmness and steadiness to his game with his experience, mentorship, and lead by example form of leadership on the court. A core as young as the Celts has needed every bit of this old vet.

He started off the season as one of the sole bright spots for Beantown by leading the association in blocks for the first few weeks of the season. On offense, he is tremendous in the pick and roll as one of the best screen setters in all of the league. The space he creates off these picks will not show up in a stat sheet.

Horford’s skill as a playmaker allowed the offense to run through his pasting off of beautiful outlets or spotting the cutters by threading the needle or being an ultimate zone buster with his ability to break it through heady plays in the heart of the paint.

One drawback was his inability to hit open three-pointers as he did in previous years. It made many question the dynamics of the double big line-up offensively. However, he was still respected as a shooter and the defense had to account for him based on that reputation alone.

Overall, his season exceeded expectations and showed that high IQ players can refine their games and age with grace.  The big man finished the season averaging 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.3 blocks per game on 47% shooting, 34% from the 3-point line, and 84% from the free-throw line.

Grade: A-