The 2021 Boston Celtics In Review

July 16th, 2021

By Alan Lu

After reaching the Eastern Conference Finals last year, big things were expected out of the Boston Celtics this year.  Star forward, Jayson Tatum had a big season as he was able to have multiple 50-point games, and he scored 50 points to lead his team to a play-in tournament game win over the Washington Wizards.

While Tatum had a very good individual season, the same couldn’t have been said for the Celtics.  They struggled with injuries and had some chemistry issues, and they had a disappointing finish to the regular season that forced them to play in the play-in tournament.  They also lost in 5 games in the first round of the playoffs to the Brooklyn Nets. In the aftermath, Danny Ainge retired as the Celtics’ president, and their head coach Brad Stevens left his position to be the new President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics.

Boston Celtics’ superstar forward, Jayson Tatum turned in a very good season this year.
(Photo:
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images, via SB Nation’s Celtics Blog)

F Jayson Tatum
2020-21 (BOS): 64 GP, 26.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.2 SPG, 46 FG%, 39 3PT%, 87 FT%, 21.3 PER, 58 TS%, 6.5 WS, .137 WS48

Tatum had a very good, all-around season, and he is a terrific scorer and is a very good all-around player that was able to have multiple 50-point games, as he managed to throw one down to get his team a play-in tournament game win over the Wizards to get his team to the playoffs.  Tatum fell just short of making an All-NBA team, but he is quickly proving himself to be one of the best players in this league.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars (4 stars potential)

Boston Celtics’ star forward, Jaylen Brown was having a very good season as he made his first All-Star team, but he then got hurt in the second half of the year, which caused him to miss the entire 2021 NBA playoffs.
(Photo:
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images, via Fansided’s Hardwood Houdini)

F Jaylen Brown
2021 (BOS): 58 GP, 24.7 PPG, 6 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 48 FG%, 40 3PT%, 76 FT%, 19.9 PER, 59 TS%, 4.8 WS, .115 WS48

He played very well prior to getting hurt, and having to miss the rest of the season, playoffs included, due to a wrist injury.  Brown played well on both ends of the floor, and he was building his case to be one of the best, two-way wing players prior to getting injured. 

It’s a shame that he ended up getting injured, because it derailed a very good year he was having, and it also likely derailed Boston’s chances of going far in the playoffs this year.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars (3.5 stars potential)

Boston Celtics’ guard, Marcus Smart is a very good defender, but his mediocre jump shot and questionable shot selection can cause issues for his team.
(Photo:
Christian Petersen/Getty Images, via Fansided’s Chowder and Champions)

G Marcus Smart
2021 (BOS): 48 GP, 13.1 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 40 FG%, 33 3PT%, 79 FT%, 13.8 PER, 54 TS%, 3.3 WS, .100 WS48

He is a very good defender that is most known for his game saving block in Game 7 of the 2nd Round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs on Toronto’s Norman Powell to help the Celtics get the victory to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

He generally passed and defended well, but he didn’t quite defend nearly as well as he did last season.  Smart showed an improved ability to get to the rim to draw and make his free throws, but he still struggled to make shots overall.  He was much more effective in shooting and passing the ball in the playoffs, but it wasn’t enough to help his team win the series.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting guard on the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

F-C Tristan Thompson
2021 (BOS): 54 GP, 7.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 52 FG%, 59 FT%, 14.2 PER, 54 TS%, 2.9 WS, .107 WS48

Thompson rebounded the ball very well, but he didn’t shoot the ball very much or efficiently as some of the other big men in this league.  He is a solid veteran presence that was able to provide some tutelage and some defense when he was on the floor.  He also played much better than expected in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G-F Evan Fournier
2021 (ORL/BOS): 42 GP, 17.1 PPG, 3.4 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 0.5 BPG, 46 FG%, 41 3PT%, 79 FT%, 16.7 PER, 60 TS%, 2.8 WS, .107 WS48

Fournier played very well this past season, and he thrived as a shooter and scorer off the bench for the Celtics.  He provided solid playmaking skills, and he also defended fairly well for them.  He once had a scoreless game in his debut, he made up for that by playing well in subsequent games, as well as in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Fournier will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Boston Celtics’ rookie point guard, Payton Pritchard played very well, as he was especially effective as a shooter and table setter for his team this past season.
(Photo:
Marta Lavandier/Associated Press, via WCVB-TV)

G Payton Pritchard
2021 (BOS): 66 GP, 7.7 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 44 FG%, 41 3PT%, 89 FT%, 12.4 PER, 58 TS%, 2.5 WS, .095 WS48

Pritchard had a very good rookie season, as he shot the ball very well, and he also capably ran the point this year.  He definitively won the backup point guard job over former All-Star, Jeff Teague after sharing the backcourt with him on the second unit, as the Celtics were comfortable enough with Pritchard’s performance to trade Teague.

He played very well in a backup role to Kemba Walker, and Pritchard could compete for a starting point guard job next season, especially with Kemba having been dealt to Oklahoma City recently.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

C Robert Williams
2021 (BOS): 52 GP, 8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.8 APG, 72 FG%, 62 FT%, 25.7 PER, 72 TS%, 5.3 WS, .258 WS48

He had a very good season, as he thrived as an interior player for his team.  He excelled as an inside scorer, rebounder, and as an interior defender that could really block shots to help his team protect the paint.  Williams didn’t really see heavy minutes in crunch time, but in looking at his advanced metrics, he seems to be a favorite of the analytics crowd.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

F Grant Williams
2021 (BOS): 63 GP, 4.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1 APG, 44 FG%, 37 3PT%, 59 FT%, 7.5 PER, 55 TS%, 1.1 WS, .046 WS48

He didn’t take many shots, but he showed an improved outside shot.  Williams is a role player that projects into a 3 and D role, but he didn’t quite defend as well this season.  That said, his size and defensive skills can allow him to guard a variety of positions on the floor.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

G-F Aaron Nesmith
2021 (BOS): 46 GP, 4.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 44 FG%, 37 3PT%, 79 FT%, 9.4 PER, 57 TS%, 1.1 WS, .076 WS48

He had a slow start to this season, but he played significantly better in the second half, as he showed a solid ability to knock down jumpers and rebound the basketball.  On the other hand, he will still need to improve his playmaking skills and defense.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (2.5 stars potential)

F Jabari Parker
2021 (SAC/BOS): 13 GP, 5.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 55 TS%, 18 3PT%, 77 FT%, 14.7 PER, 59 TS%, 0.3 WS, .089 WS48

He was waived by Sacramento after barely playing for them this past season, and he was able to latch on with Boston.  He provided scoring for them off the bench, and while he didn’t shoot threes well in the regular season, Parker played his best basketball for them in the playoffs. 

Parker was given another chance to make his mark in this league, and his solid play in the playoffs seemed to help his standing with the Celtics.  He hasn’t exactly been known for his defense, but he provided some rebounding and defense for Boston this year, and he may have played well enough to stay with them for next season.

2021 Season Grade: B (D- w/SAC, B+ w/BOS)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Parker’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

F Semi Ojeleye
2021 (BOS): 56 GP, 4.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 40 FG%, 37 3PT%, 75 FT%, 8.3 PER, 55 TS%, 1.2 WS, .063 WS48

He did a decent job of shooting the basketball, but he didn’t take many shots, and he didn’t really stand out in the other areas of the game this past season.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Ojeleye will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G-F Romeo Langford
2021 (BOS): 18 GP, 3.1 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 36 FG%, 28 3PT%, 75 FT%, 5.1 PER, 44 TS%, 0 WS, .003 WS48

He didn’t play very well on offense, and he didn’t take many shots, either.  Langford was hurt for most of the season, but he came back just in time to play in the playoffs.  On offense, he was a massive disappointment.  He did show off some on-ball defensive skills, but I’m not entirely sure if that is enough to justify the lottery selection that the Celtics used on him on draft day in 2019.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Tremont Waters (Two-Way)
2021 (BOS): 26 GP, 3.8 PPG, 2.4 APG, 40 FG%, 39 3PT%, 94 FT%, 14.6 PER, 54 TS%, 0.4 WS, .080 WS48

Waters excelled at making threes, and he also passed the ball well, and he seemed to play exponentially better in limited minutes than last season.  He will still need to improve his ability to knock down two-point shots, but Waters seems to be capable of being a reliable backup point guard on a full-time basis in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

C Tacko Fall (Two-Way)
2021 (BOS): 19 GP, 2.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG, 72 FG%, 33 FT%, 19.6 PER, 0.5 WS, .177 WS48

Tacko Fall played very well in his role with the Boston Celtics this year.  He didn’t play much, but he excelled as an interior player in limited minutes this past season.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA

Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

C Luke Kornet
2021 (CHI/BOS): 31 GP, 3.4 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 44 FG%, 25 3PT%, 50 FT%, 13.3 PER, 51 TS%, 0.7 WS, .095 WS48

He did not shoot the ball very well this past season, and he also did not grab many rebounds for his team, either.  He was quite effective as a shot blocker and interior defender, but I’m not sure if it washes out his bad offensive play this past year.

2021 Season Grade: D (F+ w/CHI, D+ w/BOS)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Kornet will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Carsen Edwards
2021 (BOS): 31 GP, 4 PPG, 42 FG%, 29 3PT%, 85 FT%, 10.2 PER, 53 TS%, 0.3 WS, .051 WS48

Edwards shot the ball a little better in general, but his three-point shooting and shooting in general was still not up to par, nor was nearly as good as his strong 2019 NCAA Tournament performances back then, and Edwards hasn’t really been able to quite make his mark as a pro in the NBA yet.

2021 Season Grade: D-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1 star (2 stars potential)

Players That Finished the Season With The 2020-21 Boston Celtics, And Have Since Been Traded Away:

G Kemba Walker
2021 (BOS): 43 GP, 19.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 42 FG%, 36 3PT%, 90 FT%, 17.7 PER, 56 TS%, 3.3 WS, .115 WS48

He had an injury prone season, and while Walker is a star point guard that is very quick, and he can really score and make plays with the basketball, he didn’t quite shoot the ball as well this year, and he really struggled in the playoffs.  At the end of the season, he was dealt with the 16th overall pick to the Thunder for Al Horford and Moses Brown, presumably to create some financial flexibility, and also to give more of the responsibilities to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on offense

Still, Walker is an agile scoring point guard that can make All-Star teams when he is on his game, and he will definitely team up with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to form a formidable backcourt for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Former Head Coach:
Brad Stevens
2021 (BOS): 36-36, 1-4 in the playoffs
Coaching Career: 354-282, 38-40 in his playoff career

Boston Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens led his team to the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals. This year though, the 2021 Boston Celtics fell considerably short of their expectations, as they had to play in the play-in tournament to make it to the postseason, and they ended up losing in the first round of the playoffs.
(Photo:
Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports, via MetroWest Daily News)

After having gotten his team to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, big things were expected of the 2021 Boston Celtics.  Unfortunately, the Celtics fell short of meeting their lofty expectations.  They did make the playoffs, but they had to venture through a play-in tournament to do so, and the Celtics ended up losing in 5 games to a very talented, Brooklyn Nets team in the first round of the playoffs this year.

They lost Jaylen Brown due to an injury that caused him to miss the playoffs, but Boston couldn’t seem to win enough games, and it didn’t help that there were rumors that Brad Stevens and Kemba Walker couldn’t quite get on the same page.  Stevens re-signed his head coaching post at the end of the year, and was promoted to be the President of Basketball Operations.  His first move since then was to trade Kemba and the 16th overall pick for Al Horford and Moses Brown in a move to create more financial flexibility and to give more offensive responsibilities to Tatum and Jaylen Brown next season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: President of Basketball Operations
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars as a head coach, 2.5 stars (3.5 stars potential) as the President of Basketball Operations

Incoming Head Coach:
Ime Udoka
2021 (BKN): N/A
Coaching Career: 0-0

After having played a long time as a player in the NBA, Udoka spent several seasons as an assistant coach, and he was an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets this year before being hired to be the new head coach of the Boston Celtics for the 2021-22 NBA season.

2021 Season Grade: I (I for Incomplete)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head Coach of the Boston Celtics
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3.5 stars potential)

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Boston Celtics’ Season:

The Boston Celtics faced lofty expectations, and fell short of it.  They did have some fun moments, such as when Jayson Tatum scored 50 points in their play-in tournament game win over the Washington Wizards, but their first round loss to the Nets combined with Jaylen Brown having to miss the playoffs due to injury only added to a disappointment-filled season for the Celtics this past year.

The 2020-21 Boston Celtics’ Season Grade: C

The Boston Celtics’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Al Horford
F Jaylen Brown
F Jayson Tatum
G Evan Fournier
G Marcus Smart

Key Reserves:
F-C Tristan Thompson
G Payton Pritchard
F Robert Williams
C Moses Brown (his contract is non-guaranteed for next season)
F Grant Williams

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G Aaron Nesmith
F Jabari Parker (his contract is non-guaranteed for next season)
G-F Romeo Langford
F Semi Ojeleye

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
C Tacko Fall (Two-Way)
G Tremont Waters (Two-Way)

Others:
The 45th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft – Likely a Stash Pick, or a Player that ends up on a Two-Way Contract

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
Evan Fournier – Expected Back
Semi Ojeleye – Expected Back
Luke Kornet – Not Expected Back

Players on Non-Guaranteed Contracts for Next Season:
Moses Brown – Expected Back
Jabari Parker – Expected Back

Projected Players Cut From Next Season’s Roster:
G Carsen Edwards

2021 NBA Draft Picks:
#45

Projected Offseason Plan for the Boston Celtics:
The Celtics are not expected to have any cap room available, so they will likely try to run back nearly the same team they have right now, aside from a few tweaks that they can still make, via trades, by signing minimum players through free agency, or with the pick they currently have.

They have one pick in the middle of the second round, and they will most likely take the best available player that would fit into their team system, but as they may bring back almost their entire roster, it’s uncertain if there will be many minutes for the player they will draft next season.

The 2022 Boston Celtics’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
45-37, 6th in the Eastern Conference

Expected 2022 Season Outcome: 
They are expected to have something of a bounce back season, as they could end up being a mid-tier playoff team next season. It may take them a bit to gel with a brand new coach, but the Celtics are a talented squad that could end up winning a round or two in the playoffs next year.

I primarily used Basketball-Reference, and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my ratings scale in terms of how I rate NBA players and coaches, you can find the information here. Thank you for reading.

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