Comparing the current-day Boston Celtics to the 2008 title team

Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2008 Boston Celtics side etched their names in the history of the organization when they secured their 17th championship and raised banner No. 17 in the rafters. It’s been 15 years since that fateful night at TD Garden and a new Celtics team has emerged with the potential to secure the highly sought-after championship No. 18.

As the 2023-2024 season approaches, let’s delve into a comparison of these two remarkable starting 5s based on how they performed in the 2007-08 and 2022-23 seasons respectively.

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo & Derrick White

Our journey into these comparisons begins with an analysis of the point guard position with Rajon Rondo representing the 2008 Boston Celtics and Derrick White representing the current day squad. When comparing their stats on their respective seasons, and their careers as a whole, both have areas in which they shine brighter. It’s only the two seasons in particular that we are interested in when making the comparison, and when we take a look at those stats, it’s clear to see that one area specifically stands out for each player – and that is defense.

Rajon Rondo 2007-08 

  • 10.6 Points
  • 4.2 Rebounds
  • 5.1 Assists
  • 1.7 Steals
  • 0.2 Blocks

Derrick White 2022-23

  • 12.4 Points
  • 3.6 Rebounds
  • 3.9 Assists
  • 0.7 Steals
  • 0.9 Blocks

Both men show a strong offensive game alongside an exceptional showing of defensive prowess when looking at these statistics. We can see both have their wins in certain categories with White leading when it comes to PPG and blocks and Rondo being ahead when looking at rebounds, assists, and steals. It’s extremely close when comparing these two sets of seasonal performances.

White made waves with his blocking last season, being a notable stat due to his height of six-foot-four, leaving Boston Celtics fans feeling a little more at ease when it comes to the point guard position as we approach the post-Marcus Smart era.

Rondo had an impressive year when it came to stealing the ball from his opponents, coming in joint 10th with Jason Kidd and Ronnie Brewer for SPG in his respective season. Although Rondo almost left the Celtics due to a bad run of team performances, when looking back now, it’s clear that he is glad he decided to stay.

Both Rondo and White bring a strong defensive contribution to the stellar teams that surrounded them, making them a perfect fit at their respective point guard positions.

Shooting Guard: Ray Allen & Jaylen Brown

Now we turn our attention to two players who have undoubtedly earned superstar status in the eyes of Boston Celtics fans and NBA enthusiasts alike. Taking a retrospective glance at the year prior to their successful championship run, Ray Allen showcased his unmatched prowess with his pinnacle scoring year in the 2006-2007 season, amassing an average of 26.4 points per game.

However, as he secured the championship the following season, his points average tapered to 17.4 per game – it is worth noting that he joined a team where the scoring was more distributed amongst the rest of the team. As Jaylen Brown begins to soar to his prime at the age of 26 and Ray Allen reaches the age of 32 on his tenure in the NBA, the following comparison feels even more compelling. Let’s take a look.

Ray Allen 2007-08

  • 17.4 Points
  • 3.7 Rebounds
  • 3.1 Assists
  • 0.9 Steals
  • 0.2 Blocks
  • 39.8 Three Point %

Jaylen Brown 2022-23

  • 26.6 Points
  • 6.9 Rebounds
  • 3.5 Assists
  • 1.1 Steals
  • 0.4 Steals
  • 33.5 Three Point %

Upon analyzing these statistics, it becomes evident that Brown emerges as the clear leader in every category except for one; the three-point percentage, which was Ray Allen’s most renowned and favored asset. Allen was an integral part of the 2008 championship-winning side and if the Celtics are to go all the way this year, Brown must be the same.

It’s difficult to mention Brown at the minute without his $304 million dollar contract being mentioned, but there is a reason he got such a bag – he’s an absolute baller. Since being drafted, he has been irreplaceable in the Celtics team, and with his extension, he doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere soon.

Brown is often on the receiving end of criticism due to his handles, but that’s not an area Allen was known for either, however, both men brought something special to the team – which would be weaker without their presence. Allen was a knockdown shooter and Brown is an aggressive all-rounder. As pieces to the teams’ puzzle, they both fit perfectly.

As also mentioned during the point guard comparison, both these stars brought something special to the team. Rondo and White brought creativity and defense, and Allen and Brown brought an array of exceptional offensive capabilities to their respective teams.

Small Forward: “The Truth” Paul Pierce & Jayson Tatum

In the rich history of the Boston Celtics, few names hold as much weight, prestige, and legacy as “The Truth” Paul Pierce. His tenure with Boston is filled with highlights, unforgettable moments, and, of course, championship No. 17. As we fast forward to the modern day, Jayson Tatum has emerged as the biggest star in Boston, capturing the hearts of casuals and die-hard fans alike as he carries the infamous Celtics torch forward.

As we dive into the stats and comparison of these two Celtics titans, we again must acknowledge that Pierce was playing the season in question as he was 30 and, as of right now, Tatum is reaching his peak at the age of 24 during the 2022-2023 season. With both players carving their names into the organization’s history, this comparison transcends eras and offers a glimpse into the past and present of premier Celtics talent. Let’s dive in.

Paul Pierce 2007-08

  • 19.6 Points
  • 5.1 Rebounds
  • 4.5 Assists
  • 1.3 Steals
  • 0.5 Blocks
  • 39.2 Three Point %

Jayson Tatum 2022-23

  • 30.1 Points
  • 8.8 Rebounds
  • 4.6 Assists
  • 1.1 Steals
  • 0.7 Blocks
  • 35.0 Three Point %

Comparing the seasons of Paul Pierce in 2007-2008 and Jayson Tatum in 2022-2023 reveals the extensive array of talent on display from both sides, wonderfully illustrated in their well-rounded statistics. While Pierce ultimately shines in one category with an impressive 39.2 three-point percentage, Tatum falls just short with a still impressive 35.0, yet leads when it comes to almost every other category.

Over the last few seasons, Tatum has taken pride in himself on his versatile ability, with the stats being a testament to that statement. Due to his deep bag of talent, he has been a nightmare for opposing defenders as he made posters out of other people’s favorite players. With 2022-23 being a season that propelled Tatum into the MVP conversation, it’s left fans wondering what heights he can reach next.

Like Tatum, Pierce is a name synonymous with high-quality ball in Boston. As it was for Allen too, Pierce’s stats took a decline during their most successful year as a team due to their offensive contributions being more spread throughout the team with the 2007 additions of Allen and Garnett – who we will get to next. Even with the decline in stats this season, Pierce was exceptional when called upon, putting up incredible performances when it mattered the most.

Pierce played with the Boston Celtics since being drafted in 1998 and stayed wearing the infamous Boston green until the grand age of 35 – I’m sure I’m speaking for all Boston fans when I say that I hope Tatum reps the Boston green for just as long. Pierce’s grind and commitment paid off, and, with Pierce’s help, so will Tatum’s.

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett & Kristaps Porzingis

We again dive into the realm of superstardom with another Titan of the game, not just for the Boston Celtics, but for the NBA as a whole; Kevin Garnett, famously renowned as “The Big Ticket”. Alongside KG, we will be analyzing the embodiment of the modern-day big man archetype that is Kristaps Porzingis. With distinct styles of play that perfectly encapsulate the eras in which both men graced the court, this comparison becomes enriched in variety and paints a picture of how the big man role has evolved over the years. Now, let’s dive in and look at the stats that show the parallels and contrasts between these two big men.

Kevin Garnett 2007-08

  • 18.8 Points
  • 9.2 Rebounds
  • 3.4 Assists
  • 1.4 Steals
  • 1.3 Blocks
  • 53.9 Field Goal %
  • 0.0 Three Point %

Kristaps Porzingis 2022-23

  • 23.2 Points
  • 8.4 Rebounds
  • 2.7 Assists
  • 0.9 Steals
  • 1.5 Blocks
  • 49.8 Field Goal %
  • 38.5 Three Point %

An intriguing and closely fought comparison reveals the distinction between eras along with the expectations of what a big man was during their respective times. With Garnett’s role as the defensive general of the team and Porzingis being the ideal archetype of the modern stretch big, the contrasts, much like the parallels, are there.

As the new addition to the Boston Celtics side, all eyes will be on Porzingis next season due to the array of abilities he can bring to this already-stacked Cs side. If Porzingis stepped into the league during KG’s era, his remarkable seven-foot-three stature, and towering presence, would result in his role being that of a lockdown paint defender, as opposed to the contemporary modern stretch 4/5. Porzingis plays this position exceptionally well though, with his 3-point average being exceptionally high for a man his size. With the rebounding and blocking he also adds to the team, he is a perfect combination of the modern and old-school big man.

Garnett’s ability and impact in the paint are evident with his numbers in rebounding, blocking, and steals, which compensates for the absence of an offensive perimeter game. His consistent scoring ability coupled with his defensive dominance made him a threat that was almost impossible for teams to manage on both ends of the court. Being the Defensive Player of the Year during his 2007-08 season was a testament to how good he truly was that season.

As previously mentioned, both men perfectly encapsulate the roles expected of the teams’ big men during their respective eras – and both did it exceptionally.

Center: Kendrick Perkins & Robert Williams III

Now as we approach the final comparison in this deep dive into Celtics present and history, we turn our attention to two formidable figures who have graced and defended the centre position of their respective eras: Kendrick Perkins and the “Time-Lord” Robert Williams III. Both men epitomize what it means to be a quintessential big man – which is size, strength, and defensive prowess. Neither of their roles on the court revolved around flashy passes, three-point shooting, or their handles on the ball, instead, they were there to protect the rim and shut down the opposition’s offense. This comparison will focus on the defensive mastery at the center position, which both men bring to the forefront. Let’s dive right into the stats to unveil the contributions they both brought to the table during their respective seasons.

Kendrick Perkins 2007-2008

  • 6.9 Points
  • 6.1 Rebounds
  • 1.1 Assists
  • 0.4 Steals
  • 1.5 Blocks
  • 61.5 Field Goal %

Robert Williams III 2022-2023

  • 8.0 Points
  • 8.3 Rebounds
  • 1.4 Assists
  • 0.6 Steals
  • 1.4 Blocks
  • 74.7 Field Goal %

These statistics give an interesting look into the essence of the archetype center in the NBA, with high numbers in rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage, which both men proudly exhibit! As highlighted earlier, neither man is the first, second, or even third choice when it comes to the offensive side of the ball, which is made evident when looking at the stats. Despite their modest scoring output, their consistency when doing so is evident with both having very impressive percentages of .615% and .747% respectively.

Their role may sometimes get overlooked by some in today’s game as it becomes filled with breathtaking 3-point shooting and handles that could break the ankles of the viewer as well as the player defending. Yet, this role is crucial, regardless of era, and both Perkins and Williams brought that to their team in abundance.

We are all praying for a healthy Williams to show why his role is so important and why he is an integral piece to this Celtics team.

Is it time for the Boston Celtics to hang Banner 18?

Both teams in question are stacked to the brim with stellar offensive and defensive prowess, which comes perfectly balanced throughout their respective starting 5s. A team that is this well-balanced is what’s needed if a championship is to be achieved, and that’s the expectation for the 2023-24 season. The star power is evident on both sides and it’s clear to see why the Boston Celtics won the coveted championship in 2008.

All I can do now is hope that if I make this comparison again at the end of the 2023-24 season, that it’s between two championship sides.