As we roll into 2023, the Boston Celtics still find themselves on top of the NBA. Boston’s 26-11 record is good enough for the best in the association as of Jan. 3. After a rough stretch in mid-December, the Cs look to be back on track. They’ve won four of their last five outings, losing their most recent contest to the Denver Nuggets on January 1.
Boston is looking more and more like the team that propelled themselves to the NBA Finals last season with their stifling defense. They’ve got themselves back amongst the league’s best in terms of defensive rating. The Celtics’ rating of 110.6 is good enough for seventh-best in the league. That rating is only 0.5 points less than the fifth-best team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
The return of Robert Williams III has given the Boston Celtics an extra boost on the defensive end. He’s also strengthened the team’s center rotation, allowing Al Horford to take on a lighter workload, and seeing Luke Kornet’s minutes decrease a bit.
Ex-lottery pick’s time with the Boston Celtics nearly up?
Another piece of Boston’s center rotation affected by the return of the Timelord is Noah Vonleh. Now, Vonleh wasn’t seeing a ton of time before the Texas A&M alumni made his season debut, but he’s since been cemented as a garbage-time player. At the beginning of the season, the former-lottery pick was even seeing real rotation minutes.
On Dec. 31, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, published a piece previewing 11 things to come in the New Year for the Boston Celtics. Mentioned at No. 5 on Himmelsbach’s list was Vonleh’s impending departure. He detailed the potential exit, writing:
"“The veteran big man’s deal will become fully guaranteed if he is not waived before Jan. 7. After getting a few opportunities early in the season, he was passed on the depth chart by Luke Kornet, and now Robert Williams’s return has reduced his value even more. Look for Vonleh to be waived to give the Celtics extra flexibility at the trade deadline and in the ensuing buyout market.”"
Vonleh has made 21 appearances in green this season, averaging 1.2 points and 2.1 rebounds on 45.8% from the field and 25% from deep. Interim head coach Joe Mazzulla relied on the Haverhill native in early games against the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic to fill out the frontcourt rotation for the Cs.