Boston Celtics 2020-21 players grades a quarter-way through the season

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Justin Quinn
·5 min read
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At a little more than a quarter of the season having been played, we have enough data to give some early grades on the play of individual Boston Celtics players.

17 games into the 2020-21 NBA season, we are seeing that the Celtics are collectively a young team with the defensive, energy and focus issues you would expect a younger team to have. They also have one of the league’s more high-powered offenses, and look to at least have potential as a contender if they can figure some of the defensive issues out, but we are here today to look at the team in a more discrete, player-oriented way.

Let’s get started then, shall we?

Jaylen Brown: A

AP Photo/Eric Gay

His scoring -- and almost everything else -- is at career-high levels. In the Most Improved Player, All-Star and maybe even All-NBA conversation, Brown deserves nothing less than an "A".

Carsen Edwards: C-

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Edwards has shown signs of growth at just the right moment to help him stick in the NBA -- but if he doesn't show them more consistently, it may not be enough. Given how little opportunity he's had, that's good for a "C-".

Tacko Fall: C+

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Fall, like Edwards, hasn't had much opportunity this season to shine. But he has also shown an array of growth in skills that hint at a stronger future in the league than his cohort member out of Purdue, so we'll grant him a "C+".

Javonte Green: C+

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Green has had a little more run than some of his other deep rotation teammates, and while he's had good games, he's also had long stretches of mediocre play. Given the extra run, that amounts to a "C+".

Aaron Nesmith: C

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There's little room to grow for guys who can't help the team win now, and it's too much to expect a player who spent most of the last year not playing to do so. But Nesmith is showing solid growth despite the lack of opportunity, rating him a straight "C".

Semi Ojeleye: B-

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

There were a few games in a row it looked like the SMU product was going to be the answer for the reserve 4 for the team, but he's since cooled off a bit. He could easily move into "A" territory in a hurry, but needs to remain more consistent with his shooting and aggression -- "B-".

Payton Pritchard: B+

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

As we noted we Nesmith, it's a big ask to expect rookies to contribute much to a contender, yet Nesmith has been one of Boston's best players off the bench when healthy. He still has off nights enough to get a bit of a ding, but even then merits a "B+".

Marcus Smart: B

AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Smart has matured a lot, and it's paying off this season when he picks his shots with care, deferring to the trio of high-powered offensive threats that are Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. But there are still games where heat-check Smart returns, so for now he's looking at a "B".

Jayson Tatum: B

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Having had COVID-19, he gets a bit of a pass -- but as great as Tatum can be, the aggressiveness and confidence of last season has been lacking, and the shot selection hasn't been great for a player who needs to draw more fouls. We expect him to warm up as the season moves on, but for now, he's earned a "B".

Jeff Teague: D

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

We're not sure what's behind the veteran's inconsistent play, but some nights he's draining everything -- and others he kicks the ball off his foot and doesn't even try to recover it. While he can still turn it around, he's mostly disappointed to date -- "D".

Daniel Theis: B+

Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Theis has been asked to sacrifice maybe more than anyone on the team, and while he struggled in a new role at the 4 early on, he also embraced it and can play the position mostly comfortably -- and sometimes very well; "B+".

Tristan Thompson: C+

AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

It's hard to blame Thompson for what's limited him -- little time and bad luck making getting conditioning and learning the system a challenge. But he's a leader on this team now, and while we expect him to get to where he wants to be sooner than later, what we've seen so far isn't quite enough, either; "C+".

Kemba Walker: B+

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Having returned so recently, an incomplete might be fairer, but Walker has done what's needed to to prepare for the season even if it rubs his competitive spirit the wrong way. And while the health aspect matters much, he's been a bit up-and-down, and so far has earned a "B+".

Tremont Waters: C-

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While it might be repetitive, it can't be said enough there's little room to grow this season for players like Waters. That said, he's had more rough stretches than good ones, so it's hard to grade the LSU product above a "C-".

Grant Williams: C-

Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

One of the players most impacted by the arrival of Thompson, Williams has struggled as Theis has playing more of the 4 this season. He's shown some promise recently, but until he gets out of his own head, a "C-" feels about right.

Robert Williams: A-

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Time Lord has shined even in his limited opportunities, to the point it may be time to start asking when he gets more of them. Many fewer mistakes, better passing, shooting and all-around court awareness hints Boston may have its center of the future already; "A-". This post originally appeared on Celtics Wire. Follow us on Facebook! [jwplayer V83gzKtB-z6KDnl0B] [lawrence-related id=46033,46027,46025,45988] [listicle id=46019]

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Indiana
+125+2.5O 217.5
Boston
-150-2.5U 217.5