The Boston Celtics have been one of, if not the best team in the NBA this season. The Cs rank among the Top 10 both offensively and defensively this year. Not to mention, Boston leads the league in net rating at 5.6.
But what is the driving factor for the Celtics this season?
The desire to get back to the NBA finals? The new offseason additions? The growth of returning players?
Take a look at what the biggest X-factors have been for the Boston Celtics this season
Jayson Tatum’s play-making improvement
Jayson Tatum has continuously proved to be one of the top scorers in the league. Year after year, the Duke alum has made strides offensively and has given opposing defenses headaches on a nightly basis.
However, a constant knock on Tatum’s game was his lack of ability to make the correct reads on offense and create for others. This year, the young star answered the doubters and showed his ability to play make for himself and his teammates, especially in recent months.
The 25-year-old is averaging a career high in assists at 4.7 assists per game, in addition to his 30.4 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. Tatum’s ability to spread the ball around this season has opened up the offense and allowed Joe Mazzulla’s offense to fire on all cylinders. If the Celtics enter the postseason with Tatum playing at the top of his game and continuing to exploit defenses, they could be the most dangerous team in the playoffs.
The arrival of Malcolm Brogdon
Last season, the Celtics biggest downfall was their lack of consistency off the bench. When Boston’s starters took a rest, the bench’s performance seemed lackluster, and the inconsistency ultimately put the C’s in tough positions. Especially in the playoffs.
Brad Stevens made it a point this offseason to fix the holes on the roster, and the bench was the obvious focal point. Stevens practically traded the Celtics bench to the Indiana Pacers to acquire Malcolm Brogdon. Among other transactions, this was clearly the biggest move of the offseason for the C’s.
Brogdon is averaging 14.6 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 48.6% from FG range and 45.5% from the 3-point line. The former six-man of the year has given Boston the balance off the bench they lacked all of last season.
When Brogdon checks in, the Celtics don’t miss a beat. Giving opposing teammates another threat to guard outside of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown has created many dynamics for the C’s offense. The versatility of Brogdon has allowed the Celtics to insert an array of different lineups to put on the floor, which only makes the team harder to defend. Not to mention Brogdon’s outstanding defense has made Boston even more lethal defensively when they’re playing at their best.
Brogdon’s arrival could be the biggest impact and most important X-factor of not only the offseason but this season as a whole.
Derrick White’s shooting
Derrick White was a big mid-season acquisition last season for the Celtics. White made a huge impact during the Celtics run to the Finals. The point guard did some great things last season but struggled with his shooting at times. This offseason, White vowed to find consistency in his shot again.
Due to the injury to Robert Williams III to start the season, White found himself in the starting lineup early on for the majority of the season. The Colorado alum started off the season strong and seemed to put the streaky shooter title away. Midseason, he ran into a cold spell, but as of late, White’s shooting has taken the Celtics’ offense to another level with his aggressiveness and ability to stretch the floor.
The 28-year-old is averaging 12.1 points per game on 46.1% FG shooting and 37.4% from the 3-point line. While the percentages don’t tell the whole story, White and his shooting have bailed the Celtics out of many close games this season, and finding his stride heading into the postseason could be vital for a deep playoff run. If White remains aggressive, he too will allow the Celtics offense to continue taking huge steps and becoming even more difficult to guard.