January 11, 2018


The Boston Celtics Might Be Unprecedented : Given how rarely in NBA history a team this young has been this competitive, it's not a stretch to argue that these Celtics could finish as the best young team in league history (Zach Kram  Jan 11, 2018, The Ringer)

The Celtics aren't just an anomaly this season, though; as a team this young and competitive, they're a historical aberration as well. Before this season, 142 teams since the advent of the shot clock played with a weighted average age younger than 25, and they were generally awful, finishing with an average .365 winning percentage, which translates to a 30-52 record.

Few were anywhere near as good as these Celtics, with only 21 of those 142 teams finishing with a winning record, and only four winning at least 50 games: Milwaukee with 56 in 1969-70, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's rookie season; Portland with 54 in 2008-09, Brandon Roy's peak; and Oklahoma City with 50 in 2009-10 and 55 in 2010-11, pre-James Harden trade. [...]

Several factors interact to produce this potentially unprecedented result. An outlier team starts with an outlier player, and the Celtics' youngest, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum, has played with the panache of a seasoned veteran. The no. 3 pick in the 2017 draft looks like he's been scooting by NBA defenders for years, and he's shattering teenage efficiency records, with a 62.6 percent true-shooting mark that's more than 5 percentage points better than every other qualified teen in league history. Tatum isn't a perfect player -- look at his ratio of 57 assists to 54 turnovers -- but it's hard to imagine a smoother start to his NBA career. He's in the 98th percentile in points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball handler, and his shooting exploits have exceeded all reasonable expectations. After ranking fifth on his own college team in 3-point percentage (34.2) last year, he ranks fourth in the NBA in long-range accuracy (46.2) halfway through this season.

His predecessor as the no. 3 overall pick, teammate Jaylen Brown, is 21 years old and producing nearly identical per-game totals to Tatum. Tatum averages 13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists each night in 31.1 minutes; Brown averages 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 31.3 minutes. The sophomore wing has managed the tricky double of increasing his efficiency and usage rate in tandem, and his stalwart involvement on both offense and defense has helped fill the void left by Gordon Hayward since the prized summer signee broke his leg and dislocated his ankle five minutes into the season.

Posted by at January 11, 2018 7:04 PM