Celtics grades: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown lead the way ahead of 2023 NBA playoffs

To start the 2022-23 regular season there were a lot of question marks for the Boston Celtics. How would the team respond to a brand new coach? Could the Celtics play up to their potential without Robert Williams III? Would Jayson Tatum recover from a rough NBA Finals?

The C’s answered all these queries by posting an impressive 57-25 overall record and clinching the No. 2 seed in a stacked Eastern Conference. Led by All-Star duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Boston boasted one of the best offenses not just in the league, but in NBA history.

Denver and Sacramento still in action…but the Celtics will finish with the 2nd best offense in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/SCsg1fPi7V

— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 9, 2023

So before Boston’s playoff push begins on Saturday, let us look back on a successful regular season and how some of the most important members of the team fared during it.

Jayson Tatum

Early on this season, Tatum was looking like the MVP favorite, and while he cooled off since then, he still had an incredible season.

He became the first Celtics player in franchise history to average over 30 points per game, as he put up a career-high 30.1 points per outing. Plus, he led the entire league in overall scoring, which is a sign of his offensive skill as well as his durability.

Jayson Tatum this season:

– 30/9/5
– 1st in total points
– First Celtic to average 30 ppg in a season
– Career highs in PPG/RPG/APG
– 1st & 2nd for highest +/- in a game
– All-Star Game MVP
– All-Star Game scoring record
– Most 40 & 30 point games by a Celtic in a season pic.twitter.com/E35EkAtglB

— CelticsMuse (@CelticsMuse) April 9, 2023

In the NBA era of load management, the 25-year-old star only missed eight games all season. And despite this heavy workload, Tatum notched career-highs in rebounds and assists while shooting a solid 46.6% from the field.

Although the Duke alum had some ups and downs with consistency, Tatum rarely taking nights off was a major reason why the Celtics were so successful this season. He stepped up in a big way for Boston, and he’ll have to do it again to propel the C’s in the playoffs.

Grade: A

Jaylen Brown

The other half of Boston’s dazzling duo also had an amazing season in his own right. Brown was named an NBA All-Star for the second time and should be on his way to an All-NBA nod.

Like Tatum, the 26-year-old was available for most of the season and posted multiple career-best marks. Brown’s averages of 26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game all either tied or surpassed his previous career highs.

Having 2 of the league’s top 3 scoring forwards on the same team is remarkable.

1. Giannis Anteotkounmpo – 31.1 PPG
2. Jayson Tatum – 30.1 PPG
3. Jaylen Brown –26.6 PPG

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should both be on everyone’s All-NBA ballots this year. pic.twitter.com/TTe1lrEo3v

— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) April 8, 2023

Additionally, Brown had his most efficient year by far. He shot a spectacular 49.1% from the field despite attempting more shots than he ever has before. His 76.5% free-throw conversion rate was also the best of his career, yet for a player of his caliber hopefully he can shoot better than that when the playoffs begin.

Grade: A

Joe Mazzulla

With former Celtics coach Ime Udoka suspended in disgrace, the C’s were in chaos to start the season. Yet, first-year coach Joe Mazzulla filled the role without much trouble.

Most regular-season wins by a rookie head coach in Celtics history:

1. Bill Russell – 60
2. Joe Mazzulla – 57 pic.twitter.com/ehTlVA3yux

— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) April 9, 2023

For a rookie coach with a troubled past, the margin for error is very slim. However, Mazzulla delivered for Boston, as he improved upon the team’s offense and always kept his players accountable:

Followed-up with Robert Williams about this today: “There are times where we’re gonna need those dump-off points, me sealing and getting a dunk. I don’t know if you heard it, but last game I caught the ball on the bench and Joe yelled from the bench, ‘score the f***ing ball.'” pic.twitter.com/Ga10CeZA3U

— Bobby Manning (@RealBobManning) April 11, 2023

Of course, Mazzulla inherited an already talented Celtics squad with multiple All-Stars. He’s even made some rookie mistakes with his game management, as his aversion to timeouts has occasionally caused the C’s trouble this season.

Mazzulla will once again have to prove his worth, but this time on the biggest stage in the NBA playoffs. The 34-year-old coach will need to make the right in-game adjustments for the C’s to go far this postseason.

Grade: B+

Brad Stevens

Last, but not least, is Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens.

Since his move to the front office, Stevens has been on par with some of the best general managers in the league. Before the 2022-23 campaign began, he landed former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon for practically nothing. He also landed six-time All-Star Blake Griffin who’s far from his prime yet is a reliable bench player nonetheless.

Just before the trade deadline, he acquired sharpshooting big Mike Muscala for scraps as well. While it wasn’t a game-breaking trade, Muscala has fit in well with Boston and scored a career-high 27 points in the season finale.

18 PTS in Q3 for Big Mike pic.twitter.com/5yHwBGERzr

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 9, 2023

Lastly, Stevens handled Udoka’s suspension and the hiring of a new coach with grace. The transition from Udoka to Mazzulla was relatively seamless, meaning the Celtics could focus on the season ahead of them rather than worry about their coaching.

He likely won’t win, but there’s a real argument to be made for Stevens taking home the NBA Executive of the Year Award.

Grade: A+

The post Celtics grades: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown lead the way ahead of 2023 NBA playoffs appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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