The Boston Celtics have gotten off to as good a start as they could have hoped for with a 14-4 record, placing them at the top of the Eastern Conference. The newly added Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis have had the impact they were expected to, and the Celtics find themselves in the top 10 in offensive rating while holding the second best defensive rating.
Of course, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the two biggest keys to success for the Celtics. However, there are three other players that need to be recognized for the impact they've had, as they all have complementary skillsets that let the Jays succeed.
First is the aforementioned Jrue Holiday. Celtics fans were distraught after losing such a beloved guard in Marcus Smart. While there isn’t someone who can replace the Smart-sized hole in Celtics fans' hearts, Holiday is a pretty close fit.
Holiday’s defensive flexability has been incredibly valuable for the Celtics and allows them to run some lineups they otherwise wouldn’t. He is currently averaging just 12.4 points per game, his lowest total since his rookie year, and his assists per game have also dropped to 5.1.
These things were expected. He no longer needs to be a primary ball carrier, and although he has the ability, he doesn’t even need to be a top three scoring option on some nights and can play off the ball. Which he has done successfully, as he is shooting 37% from three this season.
Holiday’s value goes way beyond the stat sheet, and as long as he continues playing defence at a high level and distributing the ball when needed, everything else is just an added bonus.
There was a time when the Celtics were going through guards like Kyire Irving and Kemba Walker to fit next to the Jays. Those experiments didn’t work out too well. They needed to find a point guard who could play defense, pass the ball, and knock down a shot that would be created for them. Smart was that, but he wasn’t a true point guard, although he did improve significantly in that area. Then, in February of 2022, the Celtics acquired Derrick White from the San Antonio Spurs; the perfect fit.
In fact, it was such a good fit that the Celtics decided that the only thing better than one defensive minded guard was two! We now see how dominant Holiday and White can be together. This continues to be a perfect fit to this day, and White has even gotten continuously better since joining the Celtics.
So far, this season is White’s best three point shooting season of his career, as he is knocking down 39% of his three point attempts. He has the ability to pull up or catch and shoot, which was never expected but truly appreciated. Like Holiday, White plays fantastic defence; he might be the best shot blocking guard in the league. The two have been a fantastic duo that has done wonders in creating success for the Celtics early on.
The final player to be highlighted might also be on one of the best contracts in the entire NBA, Sam Hauser, who is making $1.9 million this season and has a club option for next season worth just over $2 million.
Someone earning that much on a contract doesn’t usually contribute as much to a team as Hauser does for the Celtics. He averages 9.7 points per game and shoots 42.6% from deep. He was always supposed to be a spot shooter for this Celtics team but has become slightly more dynamic since seeing an increase in minutes.
Hauser averages 22 minutes per game and provides amazing floor spacing. He is essentially the seventh man off the Celtics bench, just after Al Horford. He also fits in well with both the bench and starting unit, so he will always be valuable for what this team is trying to do.