The Boston Celtics are coming off one of the best off-season talent injections in team history. The entire NBA media landscape has sung the C’s praises, and The Ringer is no different.
The multi-media company recently released a ranking of the top 100 players in the league. It’s an aggregate of five of its top basketball analysts, which is supposed to limit personal bias.
The Celtics had the most players on the list, with six. They even had five in the top 60, with Golden State being the only team to feature more than three in that same range.
I decided to dive into the list and examine the validity of where each Celtic ended up.
Fair Boston Celtics rankings: Jayson Tatum (No. 5), Jaylen Brown (No. 22)
If nothing else, this list accurately placed Boston’s cornerstones: “the Jays.”
Jayson Tatum came in at number five, moving up one spot from last year’s edition. The 25-year-old continued one of the most meteoric rises the sport has ever seen. The playmaking ability that seemed dormant at times improved rapidly. Tatum also led the league in scoring (total points) and was finally hyper-fixated on getting to the rim and improving his overall efficiency.
Some might have a problem with Tatum being ahead of the reigning MVP in Joel Embiid and perennial Celtic kryptonite Jimmy Butler, but why? Tatum can guard the other team’s best wing player and dictate an entire game on the offensive end in a way Joel Embiid simply can’t. Add in Embiid’s playoff shortcomings, and the controversy falls flat.
As for Butler, if you take away game seven, where Tatum injured his ankle on the first play of the game, the two played essentially an even series. Miami’s role players also had historical shooting splits, giving Butler far more help than mainstream media portrayed. It’s hard for me to imagine any GM in the league besides Pat Riley wouldn’t prefer Tatum on their roster.
As for JB, No. 22 feels like an ideal spot. On one side, he is coming off an All-NBA second-team appearance and had the best statistical year of his career. On the other side, his defense slipped, his lack of a left hand is not just a meme and a true liability, and he vanished when the Cs needed him the most. Brown is not quite in the tier of guys that can carry their teams to the playoffs, like De’Aaron Fox (17) and Anthony Edwards (18). His position as a high-ceiling erratic second option with Domantas Sabonis (24) and Pascal Siakam (25) suits him more appropriately.