3 Boston Celtics players under the most pressure next season

These 3 Boston Celtics players are under the most pressure on the roster during the 2023-24 season due to the events of this offseason Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
These 3 Boston Celtics players are under the most pressure on the roster during the 2023-24 season due to the events of this offseason Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2022-2023 Boston Celtics came into the year with uncertainty after the firing of head coach Ime Udoka. However, Joe Mazzulla came in and, despite some lows, had good highs and was able to lead the Celtics to a 57-25 record and a conference finals appearance.

For a team that was hoping to win the NBA Finals or at least make it, it is still slightly disappointing, but by no means a failure of a season. Now, for the second straight year, the Celtics are viewed as favourites to make the Finals. In order to avoid another harsh ending to a season, we must ask, what players are under the most pressure heading into next year?

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown of course signed his $304 million contract, and I mean, who wouldn’t? But when you are now getting paid more than not only everyone on your team but the entire league (for now), that is going to come with a lot of weight. Statistically, Brown has improved his regular season numbers each year, whether it’s points per game, shooting percentages, or assists.

He tends to get better at something. But now, with a contract like that, if Brown’s game takes a step back or even remains stagnant, fans will surely be quick to bring up the payday he received and bring blame to it, even if it isn’t the case.

Of course, most Celtics fans have the utmost confidence in Brown taking another leap; he is only 26 years old. They just hope it shows in the playoffs. He has at least one clear weakness, and it’s his offhand. Any player’s weakness is amplified in the playoffs, and that was the case for Brown two postseason runs in a row. There will be a lot of expectations that it will be fixed by the time October comes around.

Boston Celtics PG Payton Pritchard
Boston Celtics PG Payton Pritchard Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Payton Pritchard

When it was reported that the Boston Celtics were planning on trading one of their guards in the offseason, most people thought that meant Malcolm Brogdon or Payton Pritchard. For a short amount of time, it was Brogdon, but then, of course, it became Marcus Smart. Pritchard mentioned earlier in the season that he was looking for a bigger role somewhere. Well, it turns out that role will be with the Celtics after all.

Pritchard has seen a decrease in minutes per game every season, which is now sure to change.

And what comes with an increase in minutes are heightened expectations. He isn’t in any way expected to fill the role that Smart is leaving behind, but when someone like Smart is traded and you’re soaking up those minutes, you’ll be expected to perform.

Pritchard is undersized, which makes him an easy target on the defensive end. But Celtics fans would agree that, despite his height, he gives it everything he has on defence and will make it as difficult as he can on whoever he is guarding.

Boston Celtics big Kristaps Porzingis
Boston Celtics big Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Kristaps Porziņģis

The Celtics took quite a swing when trading for Kristaps Porziņģis. He truly gives the Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown-led Celtics team a look they haven’t had before. Since Porziņģis is coming off a career year while playing for an underwhelming Washington Wizards team and is now surrounded by a much better cast, his number may naturally drop. That isn’t what people will look at when it comes to Porziņģis; it will be team success. He already has a lot of fans who are sceptical due to his injury history and the fact that Marcus Smart had to be dealt in order to make this deal work. Every single thing he does will be tied to Smart for however long his tenure is in Boston, and the only way Celtics fans will be given closure about losing Smart is if this move brings the team a championship. That is the unfortunate reality.

Similar to Brown, Porziņģis was also given a contract extension this offseason. So if this experiment fails and fans know they are now locked into him for an extra two years, he may not have an enjoyable time in Boston.

Boston Celtics wing Jordan Walsh
Boston Celtics wing Jordan Walsh Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Celtics players who didn’t make the list

You can make the case that Jayson Tatum is under a lot of pressure. He now has a new look team around him, which, on paper, looks like his best situation yet. The question will remain, can Tatum truly be the one to lead a team to a championship? I believe we are still a year or two away from this question.

Finally, Jordan Walsh having as good of a Summer League as he did puts him under consideration. Due to his performance, some are expecting him to be some sort of Grant Williams/Marcus Smart replacement on the defensive end and really bring grit to the Boston Celtics. While Walsh did impress at Summer League, those expectations are too high for next season for the 19-year-old. Walsh does hold that potential, but not quite yet.