Collectively, the Celtics have struggled to match lofty preseason expectations as a team through the first four months of the season, but how exactly has everyone fared on an individual basis? With 58 games in the books in a very lengthy 'first half' of the year, we have more than enough evidence to take stock of the roster so let's evaluate every single player on the roster so far with a midseason report card.
Grade scales are based upon player expectations. In essence, a B for Robert Williams (who only sees spot minutes off the bench) is different from a B for Al Horford (a starter and former All-Star). Keep that in mind while reviewing these marks.
Overview: While some can quibble with the All-Star’s off-floor leadership and long-term commitment to the team this year, there’s no disputing the impact Irving has had on the C’s success in the first half. He’s played some of the best basketball of his career through 47 games, as evidenced by the fact that the Celtics offensive rating is an absurd 113.7 points per 100 possession when he is on the floor. There is still a little bit of a dropoff from a defensive standpoint when he is out there (defensive rating is two points higher) but that’s far less of a dip than last season and is indicative of his improved commitment on that end of the floor. He’s collecting steals (1.8 per 36 minutes) at a higher rate than ever thanks to smarter gambles that have helped produce wins in key moments (ex: OKC). His on-ball defense has also improved when he’s engaged, which has forced Brad Stevens to hide him less on defense. Combine all that with efficient shooting numbers, terrific assist rates and one of the lowest turnovers rates of his career and you have the ingredients to a top-15 offensive player in the league.
Overview: It’s been quite a turnaround for the veteran since an ugly start of the season. A bout with runner’s knee clearly limited his production and outside scoring touch in the first two months of the year, but since returning in December, the 32-year-old has returned to his former All-Star form. His field goal percentage is tops of the team among rotation players while his 3-point shooting is finally above average (36.9 percent) after a putrid November. His defensive rebounding has stayed steady while his offensive rebounding rate has ticked upwards in the past month, giving Boston a surprise extra source of scoring. Defensively, Horford’s mobility isn’t what it was and his struggles on that end early on still weigh down his on/off numbers. However, that trend has switched since recovering from an injury. He still has the skillset (outside shooting, post defense, versatility) at center that most teams would kill for. Outside of an anemic free-throw rate (worst on the roster), the veteran has righted the ship and appears primed for a strong second half.