As per their annual tradition, Bleacher Report named their top 100 players heading into the 2023-2024 NBA season. Notably, this time around, six Boston Celtics stars secured their place on this list.
How is the Bleacher Report top 100 determined?
Well, in order to compile their list and determine the rankings, Bleacher Report tasked their experts with selecting between random players, player A and player B, predicting who they felt would rank higher by the end of the 2023-2024 season. They garnered over 8,600 votes from almost 20 participants, culminating in a shortlist of 110 players. From there, they proceeded to rank them from 1 through 110 and calculated the average to compile into the final list.
How did the Boston Celtics do in last year’s top 100?
To fully gauge the changes from last season, let us begin by examining the pre-season rankings from this time last year. Bleacher Report released their top 100 ahead of the 2022-2023 season, which featured five Boston Celtics players:
- No. 74: Malcolm Brogdon
- No. 72: Al Horford
- No. 52: Marcus Smart
- No. 19: Jaylen Brown
- No. 7: Jayson Tatum
Robert Williams III didn’t manage to make the cut for the top 100 last season, which is understandable given his lack of availability due to injury difficulties. During the 2022-2023 season following this list, Williams played in only 35 games total, so we must ask – has Williams done enough during those games to secure a place in the most recent rankings, despite his injury-plagued year?
No sign of Derrick White on the previous rankings, and with Marcus Smart securing the point guard position going into the 2022-2023 season, it’s easy to see why White may have been overlooked when these rankings were made. However, During the subsequent season, White was electric off the bench and proved his capabilities to fans and experts alike. With the significant improvements White has shown on the court and on the corresponding stats, it’s reasonable to assume that he has secured a place this year.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are names synonymous with lists of this kind, and rightfully so. Both are multiple-time All-Stars and familiar faces when it comes to the Eastern Conference Finals. An exceptional year was had by this duo, surely resulting in them ranking higher this year. I anticipate them making a jump on this year’s list due to their exceptional 2022-2023 season.
The Boston Celtics boasted an array of stellar individual performances, culminating in some impressive post-season stat lines. It is highly likely that we will see some new faces making it this time around, as well as some rightfully moving up the list.
Who made the list this year?
With the 2022-2023 season now firmly in the rearview mirror, it’s time to find out if the boys from Beantown have done enough to either climb the list or make a new appearance. Here are how the Boston Celtics players ranked ahead of the 2023-2024 season:
- No. 89: Malcolm Brogdon
- No. 87: Robert Williams III
- No. 68: Derrick White
- No. 43: Kristaps Porzingis
- No. 19: Jaylen Brown
- No. 5: Jayson Tatum
Surprisingly, Al Horford failed to secure a spot in the top 100 ahead of next season, despite having a more efficient year. Horford made a highly respectable jump in 3-point percentage from 33.6% to 44.6% and his overall field goal percentage made a small leap from 46.7% to 47.6%. Even with his efficiency making solid improvements, the rest of his stats took a slight decline, leading to his exclusion from the top 100. Now 37 years old, his chances of making the list again seem slim, but only time will tell. We all know Horford’s heart, when it comes to the court, is stronger than most.
The reigning and defending 6th Man of the Year, Malcolm Brogdon, has succumbed to a drop from No.74 to No. 89, with his award-winning season resulting in a decline in rank in the eyes of the Bleacher Reports experts. Similarly, like Horford, Brogdon had an increase in proficiency in his 3-point and field goal percentage, notably his jump from 31.2% to 44.4% from the arc. Although this was an award-winning year for Brogdon, it wasn’t enough to secure him a higher rank. A repeat of winning the 6th Man of the Year award might be enough to secure a higher rank next year.
Although Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t repping the iconic Boston green last season, his work in Washington was enough to move up a whopping 21 places from No. 64 to No. 43. In what was undoubtedly Porzingis’s best statistical year since his 2017-2018 season with the New York Knicks. Most notable were his improvements in efficiency from the field and from the arc – 47.5% to 49.8% and 36.7% to 38.5% respectively. His improvements and consistency were enough to secure him a place in the top 50 alongside what could end up being a career-defining move to Beantown. Both Boston fans and critics have high expectations for Porzingis this year.
The $304 million dollar man, Jaylen Brown, managed to maintain his position at No. 19, and it’s easy to see why when looking at the statistics. Brown averaged almost identical numbers to his previous season with the only real improvement on the stats sheet not being overly substantial. He averaged 3 more points going from 23.6 to 26.6, and 1.4 field goals more per game jumping from 8.7 to 10.1. Alongside this, he was scoring at a 2% increase when it came to field goal proficiency. Will Brown be able to do enough to break into the top 15 and prove the contract doubters wrong?
Jayson Tatum is undoubtedly the star man in Boston, as shown by the No. 0 appearing on the jerseys of the majority of fans night in and night out at TD Garden. Critics know his abilities are world-class and the result of that is a bump in the rankings from No. 9 to No. 5 in the league. A season that put Tatum into the MVP conversation was enough for him to break into the top 5, leaving some huge names trailing behind him. Players like Kevin Durant at No. 8, LeBron James at No.7, and Steph Curry at No.6 all fell short of Tatum this year. Another big year could see his position in the top 100 get even better and I for one cannot wait to see what he has in store for Celtics fans. Can we expect an MVP year and a subsequent number 1 rank in the near future? I certainly think it’s possible.
Who is new to this year’s rankings?
Robert Williams III soars into the top 100, albeit during an injury-plagued season. When Williams was healthy, he managed to do enough, in the eyes of critics, to have his name added to the list. We all know a healthy Rob, is a dangerous Rob, and we are all praying for an injury-free 2023-2024 season so we can see him perform at his best week in and week out. I don’t think we have seen Williams at his best and, if all goes well, this will be the year he cements himself as one of the top big men in the league. Ranking at No. 87 is a great start, but at only 25 years of age and with 3 years left on his contract with the Celtics, his work in Boston is far from finished.
With Marcus Smart departing from the Boston Celtics, and his rank falling from No. 52 to No. 71, the foundations are in place for Derrick White to fill the void left by his departure. Coming in at a respectable No. 68, White has been ranked 3 places higher than Smart with critics seeing him as the slightly better option going into the season. Will White live up to these expectations? It’s all in his hands now and if he performs at the levels that he was able to achieve off the bench last season, the point guard spot is in great hands and it’s likely we will see an improvement in his ranking next year.
How do the other teams compare in the rankings?
Six players from the Boston Celtics made the Bleacher Reports top 100 with the Golden State Warriors being the only other team in the league to match this as the others fell short.
No team had five players make the list, but the Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and the Portland Trailblazers all have four players ranked in the top 100.
Surprisingly to some, the LA Lakers and the Miami Heat have only three players make the list despite having respectable seasons. They both elevated their game when it came to the playoffs and both teams managed to make it deep into the postseason tournament, reaching the Conference Final and the Finals respectively. Despite their postseason efforts, they both can only boast that 3 of their players made the list this year.
Based on these rankings, and the yearly expectations of Banner 18, the Boston Celtics are looking poised to take home the championship next season. If their cast of talent can avoid injury and play consistently under Joe Mazzulla, this could be the year the Cs become the most successful team in NBA history and prove why they have six players in the top 100.