Trading stats for wins: Kristaps Porziņģis’ role in elevating Boston Celtics

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

The Boston Celtics took a big swing this offseason to acquire Kristaps Porziņģis from the Washington Wizards. This was a very telling move by the organization. They likely believed a big change needed to happen, as it kind of felt like the team had plateaued.

Whether you want to believe that or not, the change has been made. The Boston Celtics lost their longest-tenured player, Marcus Smart, and are banking on Porziņģis being the missing piece to finally get them over the hump. Since the 2016-2017 season, the Celtics have been in the Eastern Conference Finals five times, with only one Finals appearance to show for it.

Porziņģis is coming off the best year of his career in Washington, where he averaged 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.7 assists, all while shooting 38.5% from deep. This incredible season from a player who was starting to become forgettable went mostly unnoticed by most. Playing for a small market team that is having a down year will do that. The Celtics, however, did notice this outstanding season, which meant they were buying while Porziņģis’s value was at the highest it’s been for a while. It is usually a lot easier to trade for a player who has seemingly peaked early in his career and is injury prone.

The expectations for Porziņģis are going to be extremely high among Boston Celtics fans. The team gave up one of their most beloved players in order to make this trade work, so he is going to be under a microscope every single game. Fans are going to expect his numbers to be similar to or even higher than they were last season, and that might not be realistic, which is fine.

Porziņģis was in a contract year on a team that didn’t have overwhelming talent, and no one was really paying attention to them. That is a great formula to put up some of the best numbers of your career and get a nice contract extension. The situation in Boston is almost completely opposite. He is now playing among two of the league’s best players, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are going to get priority in the offense. On top of that, the Celtics have other players who are capable of things that Porziņģis is in the big man positions alone. Robert Williams III brings a similar style defensively, where they both have the ability to block shots and be a pain on the offensive glass. Then, Al Horford shares the ability to spread the floor and hit shots from deep.

Kristaps Porzingis’ stats may suffer with the Boston Celtics — and that’s okay

This may cause Porziņģis to suffer statistically, and that is more than okay. He is not expected to be the number one option who puts the team on his back every night. He is here to potentially be the best third option in the league, competing with players like Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday, or even Draymond Green. During this time, while his statistics are suffering, his body should be able to take on less wear and tear, preparing him for a playoff run.

In the end, winning is the only thing that should matter. If Porziņģis isn’t putting up nearly as good a number as he was in Washington but is contributing to winning basketball in Boston, everyone should be happy with this trade. The Celtics are taking quite a risk, and they know this could end up hurting them, but something needed to change.