Recently the Celtics have been struggling. This is no secret and everyone is trying to figure out what exactly is going on. One of the most recent criticisms has been the lack of ball movement and playmaking from the two all-stars, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
The critique is that they don’t really make other players better, which is concerning. The analysis does point to the fact they they are far better at getting shots for themselves than they are for anyone else. Sure, they make decent passes and have okay assist numbers but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. The question is, however, is this really the problem with the Celtics.
No because that isn’t their job. At least, not yet. In fact its doesn’t have to be. Playmaking doesn’t have to be a primary skill for a superstar. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of the Clippers aren’t known for their playmaking. The issue facing both the Clippers and Celtics is that they need ball movement from other places. Kawhi has two Finals MVPs, but both of them came alongside a veteran point guard known to have an extremely high basketball IQ: Tony Parker and Kyle Lowry.
That being said, both Brown and Tatum have improved on their game every year in every way, including passing. Conversely, it’s not feasible to turn them into playmakers overnight if it’s not already a feature in their game. In addition, this team lacks real wing depth, and Brown and Tatum are carrying big work loads for this team already as a result.
…but it is a problem.
The team needs better ball movement. The team needs better quality ball movement. This is where not having Marcus Smart and losing Gordon Hayward hurts them. Smart is a facilitator and glue to the offense. He has unpredictable shooting nights but his facilitating and function is integral to the team.
Gordon Hayward always struggled with health while in a Celtics uniform, but on the court he was a reliable primary and secondary playmaker. Not only that, but he was the wing depth Boston is currently in desperate need of.
This problem is going to be hard to fix. Coaching and front office management could be better and Danny Ainge takes a lot of that blame. He hasn’t put the best roster together but he has drafted the best young duo in the league. Now he needs to support them.
This season is far from over but it’s clear improvements need to be made.
(Photo: Michael Dwyer – AP Photo)
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