Without Robert Williams, the Boston Celtics have experimented with their frontcourt rotation, and for a while it seemed like Noah Vonleh was the underdog.
However, during the Celtics’ November 5 win over the New York Knicks, Vonleh was bought by the cold and made for a stern presence on the defensive glass. Getting Jayson Tatum to praise the new signing during his post-game press conference.
“Noah came in and gave us some great minutes. And I think that’s not talked about enough. You know it’s hard not to play and Noah works his ass off every day and honestly he probably never knows when he’s going to play. And then on a night like tonight we don’t have Luke (Kornet), we don’t have Rob (Williams) and Al and he has to come in and help us win a game and he did. Offensive rebounds, setting screens, he knocked down a three, so that was great and I’m glad he had the opportunity to contribute tonight,” Tatum said.
In 16 minutes of play, Vonleh provided the Celtics with seven points and seven rebounds while shooting 75% from the field.
While Boston’s defense might struggle to start the season, their offense was among the best in the NBA, ranking 2nd in the league for offensive rating. During his post-game press conference, Tatum praised Boston’s improvements in offense.
“I think we started this year as a much better offensive team than last season and just tried to adjust our defense. And of course Rob (Williams) is a big part and not having him there gives us some challenges to solve every night. But from an offensive point of view, I think that’s just a holdover from the end of last season. You know, we have most of the same people, so the message is kind of the same, and we’re familiar with the things that we’re just trying to achieve,” Tatum said.
Under interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, the Celtics are playing a faster pace on offense while also adding some new creases to their offensive scheme, and currently they seem like an unstoppable force when attacking opposing defenses.
We may only be nine games into the new season, but it’s clear that Tatum’s game has taken another step forward at both ends of the parquet. According to Cleaning The Glass, Tatum shows an improvement in finishing around the perimeter – he shoots 80% – and also hurts teams from deep, hitting 37% of his triangle triangles and 38% from deep overall. Additionally, Tatum is currently averaging 131.9 points per 100 shots, ranking him in the 27th percentile among wings in the NBA.
Tatum is currently averaging 30.3 points, eight rebounds and 4.2 assists per game while shooting 50% from the field, 38.3% from deep and 90.4% from the free throw line. If the 24-year-old can maintain that level of offensive performance while continuing to prove himself as a legitimate wingstopper as a nuisance in the fast lane, then there’s no reason he can’t be in contention for the MVP title come the end of the season.