Derrick White praises Boston Celtics stars for selfless mentality

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics
Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics / Paul Rutherford/GettyImages

The 2023-24 Boston Celtics have dominated the NBA this season with a league-best 43-12 record through the All-Star break, fueled by a strong emphasis on selfless basketball from start to finish. With a team-first approach at the forefront of their success, the Cs have seen their best players sacrifice their individual scoring and usage rate for the betterment of the team.

Starting point guard Derrick White has arguably benefitted the most from Boston’s selfless mindset. White has enjoyed a breakout campaign with career-high averages in points, field goals made, 3-pointers made, blocks, steals, rebounds, and free throw percentage. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have both decreased their usage rate and shot volume, and White has reaped the rewards more than anyone.

White, who has become a fan favorite for Celtics Nation, spoke about Boston’s selfless season on The Greg Hill Show.

"Joe (Mazzulla) has definitely mentioned it, but we as players gotta buy in. JT has probably been the most vocal about it... A guy at his position that’s willing to take that sacrifice, it definitely means a lot. JB has done the same thing, too… There are a lot of little things that we talk about each day, and it’s not all really on the stat sheet, but it just helps us win."

Derrick Whire

White’s sky-high confidence has provided fans with a stark contrast to the timid stretches he displayed during his first few months in Boston. The sacrifice of the Jays has truly allowed White to blossom into one of the most improved players in the league.

Boston Celtics getting individual sacrifices up and down the roster

However, Tatum and Brown are not the only Celtics making individual sacrifices. Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday have also scaled back their usage. 

Last season, Porzingis boasted a 27.3% usage rate as the Washington Wizards' top scoring option. This year, KP owns a 24.6% usage rate. He has also averaged his fewest field goal attempts per game since his rookie season, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting together one of the most efficient post-up seasons in basketball history with a league-leading 1.4 points per post-up.

Holiday held a 25.1% usage rate in his final run with Milwaukee. With the Cs, the 2021 NBA champion has decreased his usage by nearly 10%. Down to a 16.8% usage rate this season, Holiday has still made the most of his opportunities in one of the most potent offenses he has ever been a part of. Holiday has nailed a league-high 62.7% of his corner threes as a Celtic, and he leads the Atlantic Division in 3-point accuracy with a 44.0% mark from downtown – good for No. 11 leaguewide.

The Celtics have come incredibly close to an 18th championship since White came to Beantown, but this season feels like a good kind of different for many Cs fans. White acknowledged the improvements Boston has shown since last year.

"I think it’s a little bit of everything. Joe has been great just trying to instill the basketball joy we talk about all the time. You wanna play the right way, you wanna move the ball … When we’re moving the ball and we’re all having fun, we’re a really good team. Obviously, adding KP and Jrue gives us so many different options. There are so many different ways we can win games now … It has been a lot of fun, and we’re just going to keep getting better and better and be playing our best basketball at the end of the year."

Derrick White

Head coach Joe Mazzulla has drawn inspiration from many different avenues this season. In an October interview with Jay King of The Athletic, reserve big man Luke Kornet talked about the C’s learning from the selflessness of famous soccer team Manchester City. 

"We watched some Man City stuff, which was pretty engaging just in terms of how they are connected and moving the ball and just sharing. They play with an energy and life that I think is, yeah, you watch them put it together and it’s a pretty infectious style of play."

Luke Kornet

Boston has developed into a selfless juggernaut behind Mazzulla’s message to the players and their collective commitment to playing for each other. Armed with the best offensive rating in basketball, the Celtics have their sights firmly set on Banner 18.