In order to acquire Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, the Celtics gave up several rotation players this past offseason, including homegrown favorites like Marcus Smart and Rob Williams. For the most part, this departing cast has performed well this season.
Grant Williams, in particular, has been a key reason for the Maverick’s hot start to the season, while Brogdon has maintained his efficient scoring, albeit on a low-performing Portland team. Here’s a snapshot of how the recently-traded Celtics have played in the first weeks of the 2023-24 NBA season.
Grant Williams (Dallas Mavericks)
Grant has thrived in Dallas so far this season after the Celtics declined to re-sign him (and instead, signed-and-traded him for two second round draft picks). He’s averaged 15.5 points on 54.3% shooting to go along with five rebounds per game. Albeit in a limited sample size, Williams has shot 55.2% from three, which included exploding for 25 points on 7-9 threes on Wednesday night to lead the Mavs to a victory over Chicago.
Grant Williams has shot 11-14 FG (78.6%) on unguarded catch-and-shoot jump shots so far this season. His output of 2.357 points per possession leads the NBA among all 68 players with 10 or more attempts.— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) November 3, 2023
He's made defenses pay for loading up on Luka Doncic while taking… pic.twitter.com/laNVYWwpjQ
Most importantly, he served as a defensive anchor and vocal leader for Dallas. His strong play has translated to wins for the 4-1 Mavericks. Luka Doncic, who’s off to a scorching offensive start this season, praised Williams for his leadership on the team, particularly on defense. “I think the best improvement is having Grant on the team,” Doncic said. “He can guard one through five, anybody, so he’s our leader on defense, and we follow him on defense.”
Marcus Smart (Memphis Grizzlies)
Smart’s individual play has been solid — in five games, he’s averaged a career-high 15 points per game on 50% shooting to go along with 5.8 assists and a league-high 3.2 steals. But, the Memphis Grizzlies have struggled mightily in Ja Morant’s absence, and remain the NBA’s only winless team with a 0-5 record. As starting point guard, Smart has averaged 4 turnovers per game, more than double his career average, and both the Grizzlies’ perimeter defensive and offensive production has been lackluster.
Despite the losses, head coach Taylor Jenkins has lauded Smart’s performance so far. “Marcus has been great. I think that allows [Bane] to play off the ball,” Jenkins said. “Marcus with nine assists [against Dallas], I thought he was in attack mode, aggressive.”
Malcolm Brogdon (Portland Trail Blazers)
Coming off the bench for Portland, Malcolm Brogdon has served as a similar scoring-plug he did in Boston. He’s averaged 18.2 points per game so far on 44.3% shooting, good for second-most on the roster. The Blazers are 2-3 so far, and Brogdon has been the second-leading scorer on the team, second to Shaedon Sharpe.
While it initially looked like Brogdon was going to be quickly flipped, he’s enjoying the chance to be a leader in a locker room full of young prospects. “I want to be here,” Brodgon said soon after the trade. “There’s a lot of misleading information out there about ‘they need to trade me’ or ‘I want to go to a [contender].’ I’m trying to make the most of my opportunity and right now it’s assuming a leadership role with these young guys. I’m embracing it.”
Robert Williams (Portland Trail Blazers)
It’s been a weird fit for Rob in Portland, who’s not exactly the ideal front-court partner to Deandre Ayton from a spacing standpoint. Rob’s averaged 7 points per game on 63.2% shooting, as well as 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He’d likely benefit from a change of scenery to a more contending team, playing alongside a big that can space the floor. Rob missed the preseason with a knee injury after a ‘nasty collision’ in practice, but has been healthy these past few weeks.
Danilo Gallinari (Washington Wizards)
The Wizards are 1-3, and off the bench, Danilo has averaged 8 points on 55% shooting in 15 minutes per game. He recently opened up about being traded by the Cs and his desire to contribute last postseason after missing his entire Celtics tenure with an ACL tear. The good news for the 35-year-old vet, however, is that he’s healthy and back on the court, though not for the franchise he grew up rooting for.
Mike Muscala (Washington Wizards)
Muscala has also seen limited minutes with the Wizards — he’s averaged 3 points per game in 13.7 minutes. But, filling in for Daniel Gafford, Muscala entered the starting lineup and could see continued minutes as injuries plague the team’s frontcourt.