Boston Celtics: Player report cards for Christmas

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images /
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NBA Power Rankings
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Gordon Hayward: B

Nobody expected Gordon Hayward to come out of the gates playing All-Star basketball after last year’s horrific season-ending injury. He has not been the same player that he was with the Utah Jazz, but it feels like he’s finally approaching 100 percent.

On the season, Hayward has been third among Celtics’ players averaging 20 minutes in net rating, posting a +7.9. That number has improved even further over the last 15 games, as he’s posting a +12.4 net rating in that span. Hayward has also provided an anchor for the second unit since head coach Brad Stevens elected to have Hayward come off the bench.

Outside of one 30-point night against the Minnesota Timberwolves, we’ve seen only flashes of Old G. It looks like Hayward is primed to return to his old self as the calendar flips to 2019.

Marcus Morris: A+

Marcus Morris has been incredible. The 2018-19 campaign has been a career year for Mook in every single possible aspect. There is a strong argument to be made that Morris has been the C’s second-best player behind Kyrie Irving this season.

Morris is averaging 14.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while posting .492/.424/.875 shooting splits — all career highs. Mook’s 3-point shooting has been especially valuable, ranking sixth in 3-point percentage in the NBA among forwards who attempt at least three deep shots per game.

Marcus Morris was never supposed to be this good. Celtics GM Danny Ainge has made shrewd trades in the past, particularly with the Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers, but trading Avery Bradley for Mook — largely seen as a cap clearing move at the time — will go down among the best.

Jayson Tatum: A

Jayson Tatum received a lot of criticism for his shot selection early in the season. After working out with Kobe Bryant over the summer, Celtics Twitter and Deadspin were a field of jokes about Kobe sabotaging Tatum’s game by convincing him to shoot long mid-range shots. Tatum has put some distance between himself and that criticism in recent weeks.

The past 15 games have seen a serious uptick in Tatum’s efficiency. He’s been averaging 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game on .505/.385/.778 shooting splits in that time. His isolation game has also taken massive strides this season, as he’s been putting defenders on skates with a gorgeous crossover.

Tatum was a massive factor in the Celtics’ Eastern Conference Finals run a season ago, and he will again be asked to play a huge role if they make a run this season. His game has developed enough to make him a staple of Boston’s offense, and potentially an NBA superstar.