5 Celtics who are exceeding expectations, 2 underperforming at midway point of season

The Celtics are title contenders with these players performing unexpectedly.

Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday
Boston Celtics, Jayson Tatum, Jrue Holiday / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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Exceeding expectations: Kristaps Porzingis

The Celtics made a massive gamble trading Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis and two first-round picks. It changed the complexion of their roster and gave Boston a 7’4 rim protector who can post up and space the floor. Boston made the conference finals five times in the last seven years. Making a massive shift was risky, but felt necessary if they were going to break through and win a championship.

KP took his game to another level in Washington. There are still injury concerns, but the Unicorn is carrying it over to his time in Boston. Porzingis is protecting the rim and spacing the floor, but his offensive efficiency has improved. He is averaging 19.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.8 blocks in 29.7 minutes per game and has instantly become a crucial piece for the Celtics.

Boston has an incredible 19 net rating with the Unicorn on the floor this season and his 0.215 win shares per 48 minutes ranks eighth in the NBA. The Celtics lead the league in net rating at 9.8. They could not have expected things to go this well with KP, and the best is still yet to come from this group.

Porzingis will play better. He is shooting just 32.7 percent from 3-point range and figures to get closer to his career 35.7 percent as the season goes on. That is scary for the rest of the league.