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CelticsBlog roundtable: overlooked storylines

What are some stories that aren’t being talked enough about around the Boston Celtics?

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s topic: What is an overlooked storyline or development that you think isn’t being talked about enough?

Trevor Hass

This could change tomorrow, but at the moment, the Celtics are giving Payton Pritchard the green light and the opportunity he’s craved. I think we all expected him to head elsewhere, right? Well, it hasn’t happened yet. Pritchard never wanted out of Boston; he just wanted minutes. Now, barring any more moves, it looks like he’ll get them. Even if Malcolm Brogdon ends up starting the season healthy, realistically, it may not stay that way. Joe Mazzulla prefers to keep his rotation relatively tight, but currently, it seems like Pritchard is part of it. He’s risen to the occasion more often than not when given the opportunity, and there’s no reason to expect anything less. It’ll be exciting to see what he does if everything stays as is. If it doesn’t, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. As long as he’s playing somewhere, he’ll be just fine.

Benjamin Torbert

Rob Williams. Full stop. He had his moments last year, but on balance that was not the Rob Williams we saw for about a 4-month stretch in the 2021-22 season where he elevated his game and temporarily turned that team into a verifiable juggernaut. Although Smart deservedly won DPOY for that season, Rob had an extremely worthy case as well. If Rob can be THAT Rob again (even if it’s for only 60 games or so), the Celtics will be the best team in the league. Will Rob be healthy? Terrifying question for Celtics fans. But if he is healthy - terrifying proposition for the rest of the league.

Ethan Fuller

Derrick White had his clear best NBA season last year, and it seems like the Celtics took note and solidified him as the leader of the guard rotation. He’s earned it, but can he match the production with less depth at his position? Can White remain an All-Defense player after last year’s draining schedule, and without Marcus Smart beside him? Is the perimeter shooting here to stay or primed for regression? How does his role change initiating the offense with Smart gone? I’m absolutely a believer in White’s game, but he’ll also need to back up the standard he set last season.

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Jeff Pratt

Looking at the current roster, it’s the role Payton Pritchard will have to play on a consistent basis.

This time last year, I wrote about how Pritchard was in a tough spot with Boston’s surplus of capable guards ahead of him on the depth chart. After the Marcus Smart-Kristaps Porzingis trade, that’s no longer the case. Everyone assumed Pritchard being dealt was inevitable heading into the offseason, especially considering how public he’s been with those desires. However, his biggest gripe with the organization was a lack of playing time. As of right now, that won’t be an issue for him next season.

Derrick White will almost certainly slide into the starting point guard role in Smart’s absence, with Malcolm Brogdon playing significant backcourt minutes when healthy. However, Pritchard is very clearly the third guard in Boston’s rotation right now, which means he should receive 10-20 minutes of playing time on a nightly basis.

This is the opportunity Payton has been hoping for. It’s up to him to prove he’s capable of handling that type of workload.

Mike Dynon

Derrick White being handed the keys. There’s been plenty of emotional reaction to the trade of Marcus Smart, and rightly so. Smart was the longest-tenured Celtic, the vocal leader both on and off the court, and the favorite of a large percentage of Boston fans.

Meanwhile, there hasn’t been as much discussion about White becoming the point guard by default. He’s certainly qualified to run the team: last season he was one of just 10 NBA players to appear in 82 games; his net rating of 11.0 was third best in the entire league (55 games or more); and his 76 blocks led all NBA guards and helped him earn All-Defense second team. When Smart was injured at midseason, White won a Player of the Week award by averaging 24.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists while shooting .522/.515/.900. Boston won all four games that week.

It seemed like the Celtics were a better team when White played than when he didn’t, but with Malcolm Brogdon also taking backcourt minutes, White sometimes was left out. For instance, the Cs went to overtime in 11 games, and in five of those White sat for the entire extra time. In another he played just one second of OT. And in the one game that went to double overtime, White played the last three minutes only after Smart fouled out.

Those days are over now. With Smart gone, White will direct the offense and be counted on to supply “winning plays.” We only need to think back to the end of Game 6 in Miami to know how capable he is.

Jeff Clark

For me it has to be Jayson Tatum. A lot of attention is (correctly) going to Jaylen Brown and his supermax deal and the new guy Kristaps Porzingis. But usually championship teams are driven by their best player. Tatum has made improvements every year in the league, some more noticeable than others. The last step for him might be his hardest. Leadership.

That’s not to say that he hasn’t been a leader in his own way over the years. That isn’t to say that he has to look like a specific type of leader. But Marcus Smart is gone now and all eyes will be on Tatum and Brown to set the tone in their own way.

I think Tatum has Finals MVP potential but he can’t do it alone, which means he has to lead.

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