We’re 10 games into the regular season and that’s still not a very large sample size, but that is halfway to 20 games (my own unofficial point of the season when you pretty much know what you have - minus any player absences).
So with the obvious caveat that it is too soon to make definitive judgments on the season yet, I have a few scattered thoughts on the events thus far.
Jayson Tatum is an artist
There’s a great scene from the movie A River Runs Through It where, as the narrator puts it “I then saw something remarkable. For the first time, Paul broke free from our father’s instruction, into a rhythm all his own.
That’s how I feel like watching Jayson Tatum these days. We knew he could shoot from deep. We knew he could drive into the lane. We knew he could defend. Last year he improved his playmaking. He’s had all the elements of a great player for a long time, but he’s finally starting to put them all together and add his own special twist on them.
It is beautiful to watch. MVP is not out of the question, especially when you factor in defense.
Jaylen Brown is an All Star
Tatum and Brown are such a lethal combination in part because you have to account for both of them. It doesn’t seem like “my turn, your turn.” It feels more like a 1-2 punch. You might dodge one for a while, but then the other one is going to get you.
Jaylen is 14th in the league in scoring (24.9) with 6.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists a game. His outside shooting percentages are actually down (33.8%) so he even has room to grow if he gets back to his career average of over 37%.
Malcolm Brogdon is exactly as he was advertised
It still boggles my mind that Brad Stevens even thought about adding Brogdon after he already had Marcus Smart and Derrick White, but I’m glad he did.
Having a legit floor general on the court with the second unit is such a game changer. He has an innate understanding of what the game needs in the moment. He makes the right reads, the right passes, and picks the right time to drive the ball into the teeth of the defense and either get a layup or kick it out to an open man (usually Sam Hauser or Grant Williams).
We miss Robert Williams III so much
The Celtics have crawled up to the 20th best defense in the league, which is better than where they were after the first few games, but still nowhere near the levels they were at last season. You can’t put all of that on missing Rob, but he sure would help.
He also adds a vertical threat on offense that that guys like Luke Kornet and Grant Williams just (if we’re being kind) aren’t equipped to. Get well soon (but take all the time you need) Robert.
Joe Mazzulla can coach
There’s obviously going to be some rough patches as Mazzulla adjusts to sitting in the top seat. He’s experimenting with lineups and gathering data on how different players work together. There’s the great debate over how to use timeouts. I get that he wants players to play through situations, but at some point you also have to settle everyone down and re-focus them. That’s a balance and an art that he’ll have to figure out over time.
Even though much of the roster returned from the Finals run, adding Brogdon and playing without Rob Williams creates a significant shift towards smaller lineups and a more offensive focused game plan. Through that Joe has steered this ship to a 7-3 record (including two overtime losses to the Cavs that could have gone either way). All told, so far so good for Joe.
I’m sure there are more storylines that I’m missing, but those are the ones that have stuck out to me thus far.