Surprise, surprise. The Boston Celtics hold the NBA’s best record (18-3), despite the multiple storylines the team has had to face. With Gordon Hayward (ankle/leg) done for the season, Kyrie Irving becoming “The Masked Uncle” and going on a 16-game winning streak after a 0-2 start.
Someway, somehow Boston is the best team in the association, record-wise.
The emergence of Jaylen Brown and polished play from Jayson Tatum have been the team’s greatest assets to their early start.
In an increased role, Brown has more than doubled his point production from 6.6 his rookie year to 15.9 in his sophomore campaign. He’s shown the ability as a reliable two-way player with his athleticism, slashing and improved three-point shooting.
Through 20 games, he’s improved his shot from beyond the arc from 34.1% to 41.5% and has shown an increased confidence to take the shot as he’s attempting 5.2 per game.
His increased production has been an added boost along with his wing partner in Tatum. The rookie is averaging 13.9 points per game with a slash line of .492/.476/.841. He’s needed to play the role of reliable scorer earlier than expected and has shown flashes of stardom through his first 21 games
Tatum has shown he’s more than a reliable scorer and shooter, but can also rebound the ball. As he’s averaging 5.5 per game and has had 11 games with 5+ boards and two in double digits.
Tatum has shown he’s been Boston’s best offensive rookie in almost 20 years, as his 291 points through 21 games are the most by a Celtic rook since Paul Pierce in 1998-’99.
The duo of Brown and Tatum — which is still looking for a nickname — have brushed the dust off assertions, for now at least, that Danny Ainge makes questionable draft decisions. Both have looked good thus far, behind the leader of the pack: Kyrie Irving.
Even with the mask, Irving has produced and has shown he’s adjusted to the Boston scheme nice and easy. His 460 points through 20 games are the most ever by a Celtic in their first season with the team.
Irving’s game has changed as he continues to dawn the green and white. Mainly, his isolation plays are down from 21.4% last season to 17.1% this season. He’s playing a new type of offense where it’s different than Cleveland, and ball movement, along with cuts are more appreciated than being in an isolation.
The amount of times he’s touching the ball this season has taken a decent dip in comparison to last season. Irving’s touches per game have gone south from 79 last season to 70.8 this season
Despite the decrease in touches and passes received this season, Irving’s PER (25.8) and true shooting percentage (.587) is currently at a career-high.
It’s early, but the Celtics’ invested future of Irving, Brown, and Tatum, have produced flawlessly in the early stages of the season. The only question will be is if it’s long lasting?