NBA Player Tiers Post 2024

radsoxfan

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I'm not a huge Tatum fanboy or anything, but even ignoring the insane and unnecessary chemistry change by trading Tatum, I definitely wouldn't trade him for Giannis straight up for basketball reasons. I don't understand those who would. Giannis' peak might be better than Tatum's peak, but it's likely already passed. 26 vs 29 is a major difference, that's 3 prime NBA years. The injuries are also piling up for Giannis and he hasn't been able to improve his shooting. I'll take the rest of Tatum's career over the rest of Gianni's career without question.

Embiid is interesting in these ranking discussions, he's coming off apparently a similar injury to TImelord (and had a similar hobbling attempted playoff comeback). He's obvious way bigger and better than Timelord so even if his athleticism is diminished he could still be really good, but Embiid's peak may also be behind him at this point.
 
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Euclis20

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People are really, really hung up on raw individual efficiency.
And they'll see his box score defensive numbers and assume he's excellent (if there was a 3rd team all-defense, he would've made it per the votes) on that end.

I do believe that SGA had a better regular season than Tatum (and it's not just about scoring efficiency), but I think what helps SGA in these talks is that people view him as an up and coming star, while Tatum has already plateaued. There's probably some truth to that (Tatum's 113 playoff games has to have resulted in him being closer to his ceiling than the typical guy finishing up his age 25 season), but I think the general public just has no idea that he and Tatum are basically the same age. Of the new generation of superstar wings, the public puts Luka and Tatum in one box (relatively finished products who have already made deep playoff runs) and SGA and Ant in the other (up and comers still not in their primes), without realizing that SGA is older than Luka and just a few months younger than Tatum. At some people may wake up and realize SGA has even less playoff success than Embiid (one playoff series victory in 6 years doesn't feel enough to declare someone a perennial MVP candidate), but we're not there yet.

Check back in 12 months. It wouldn't be the most shocking thing in the world if OKC takes half a step back next year (similar to Boston in 2021, or Memphis this year), and SGA would take a small hit nationally.
 

radsoxfan

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The Ringer list is light on D, agree there. Certainly for this Celtics team I would prefer White/Holiday over some of the guards above them.

And KP really should be higher than 42, though admittedly the injury issues make an actual ranking tough to come up with so I guess they landed there.

Even taking that list as it is, having 5 of the top 42 players in the league is pretty remarkable. An average team is going to have 1 (or if they're lucky 2) in that range.
 

BigSoxFan

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The Ringer list is light on D, agree there. Certainly for this Celtics team I would prefer White/Holiday over some of the guards above them.

And KP really should be higher than 42, though admittedly the injury issues make an actual ranking tough to come up with so I guess they landed there.

Even taking that list as it is, having 5 of the top 42 players in the league is pretty remarkable. An average team is going to have 1 (or if they're lucky 2) in that range.
It’s even better when you factor in the acquisition cost of Brad getting Holiday, White, and Porzingis. They gave up Smart (#86 on the list), Brogdon, TL, and a bunch of low value picks and/or swaps.
 

radsoxfan

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It’s even better when you factor in the acquisition cost of Brad getting Holiday, White, and Porzingis. They gave up Smart (#86 on the list), Brogdon, TL, and a bunch of low value picks and/or swaps.
JVG had a lot of high praise for Brad on the Lowe podcast.

Basically said if Brad calls you as another GM, get ready to hang up the phone because you're about to be fleeced.
 

m0ckduck

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This is a very specific Ringer nitpick, but: what is the possible rationale for having Kyrie Irving (#25) two spots higher than Dame (#27)? They’re the exact same player but Dame is more productive, vastly more consistent and not a loon.

I guess KI’s defense is perceived as better because… stealz? Or is it in recognition of KI getting to the Finals and then promptly sucking?
 

Jimbodandy

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Basically said if Brad calls you as another GM, get ready to hang up the phone because you're about to be fleeced.
They said the same thing about Red back in the day too. In some cases, that's probably true. But remember where teams are on the development curve, salary cap/luxury tax situations, etc. We feel like we made out great in the DWhite trade, and we did, but a steady rock, all around contributor like White might be less of what SAS needed the last couple of years. A weak roster where the very low first might actually contribute or be tradeable for another young guy, plus actually not really having a desire to maximize regular season wins and lost draft position. Similar to PDX, going through a full rebuild. Jrue is less valuable to them than to us. It didn't necessarily work out with Rob's knee blowing up again, but they got other things, picks, etc. Sometimes your trash is another team's treasure, but that doesn't mean that the idea behind the trades necessarily involves fleecing, at least not always.
 

Jimbodandy

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This is a very specific Ringer nitpick, but: what is the possible rationale for having Kyrie Irving (#25) two spots higher than Dame (#27)? They’re the exact same player but Dame is more productive, vastly more consistent and not a loon.

I guess KI’s defense is perceived as better because… stealz? Or is it in recognition of KI getting to the Finals and then promptly sucking?
Lillard had a pretty bad year (by his standards), and Kyrie had a pretty good one. I don't think that it's much more than that.
 

benhogan

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The Ringer list is light on D, agree there. Certainly for this Celtics team I would prefer White/Holiday over some of the guards above them.

And KP really should be higher than 42, though admittedly the injury issues make an actual ranking tough to come up with so I guess they landed there.

Even taking that list as it is, having 5 of the top 42 players in the league is pretty remarkable. An average team is going to have 1 (or if they're lucky 2) in that range.
You know who ranks perimeter Defense much lower than the Ringer? NBA GMs

The Ringer groups All-Defense wings: Caruso, Suggs*, Jones, McDaniel* along with CJ McCollum, Brad Beal, MPJ, Zach LaVine.

Suggs/McDaniels on a Rookie deals, Jaden extended at 5/$130M

The 4 All-Defense perimeter wings got paid $32MM last season
PointZ! getters made $155M last season

Checkbooks foolishly overpay for baskets.

FWIW if I were to rank those 8 players Beal, McCollum, & LaVine would be below all the All-Defense wings
 
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radsoxfan

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Admittedly, it's easier to value D when you can slot them in as the 4th/5th options on offense. Most teams have to pick one or the other and lean offense.

A lot of those other teams don't have the luxury we have.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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Some of those Ringer rankings seem silly.

Doncic #2 after THAT playoffs? Al, #100, below a whole bunch of guys who, on the Celtics instead of Al, would not have made them better.
 

Kliq

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You know who ranks perimeter Defense much lower than the Ringer? NBA GMs

The Ringer groups All-Defense wings: Caruso, Suggs*, Jones, McDaniel* along with CJ McCollum, Brad Beal, MPJ, Zach LaVine.

Suggs/McDaniels on a Rookie deals, Jaden extended at 5/$130M

The 4 All-Defense perimeter wings got paid $32MM last season
PointZ! getters made $155M last season

Checkbooks foolishly overpay for baskets.

FWIW if I were to rank those 8 players Beal, McCollum, & LaVine would be below all the All-Defense wings
I get your point, but a lot of those defense guys are younger guys on rookie deals, while the offensive guys are veterans.
 

Euclis20

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This is a very specific Ringer nitpick, but: what is the possible rationale for having Kyrie Irving (#25) two spots higher than Dame (#27)? They’re the exact same player but Dame is more productive, vastly more consistent and not a loon.

I guess KI’s defense is perceived as better because… stealz? Or is it in recognition of KI getting to the Finals and then promptly sucking?
I think Irving's defense is perceived as better because he IS a better defender than Lillard. Kyrie when he's trying is garden variety below average to bad (he gets super aggressive and has decent hands, but is easily overpowered and gets lost off ball), where as Lillard plays defense like Luka, if Luka were 5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter. He's slow, he's lazy, he doesn't pay attention, AND basically anyone in the league can go right through him if they want (Luka's one saving grace is that he's bulky and has quick hands, making him difficult to post up). The only "star" player in the entire league that is worse defensively is Trae Young, and that's literally the only good thing I can say about Lillard's defense.

The selling point for Lillard is that he's a playoff killer, but Kyrie has been a big part of teams that have won 15 playoff series, he's been to 4 finals, and he's got one of the most clutch shots in NBA history. Lillard has some crazy playoff moments too (I believe he's the only player to have more than one series ending buzzer beater), but he's also won just 4 playoff series in 12 years, and has never won a game beyond round 2. Kyrie is historically unreliable, but he hasn't shown that since arriving in Dallas yet, while Lillard is a couple years older and has missed a lot of time recently. If Lillard ever goes deep into the playoffs, he'll be hunted to extinction on defense at a level that would make Luka turn his head in disgust.
 

BringBackMo

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SGA over Tatum at this point is ridiculous. What Tatum did in these playoffs is like, a top 3% outcome for SGA's career.
Well said. And what about Doncic above Tatum? I just watched Tatum kick Luka’s ass up and down the court. I just don’t understand how Doncic is still higher than him on these lists
 

m0ckduck

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I think Irving's defense is perceived as better because he IS a better defender than Lillard. Kyrie when he's trying is garden variety below average to bad (he gets super aggressive and has decent hands, but is easily overpowered and gets lost off ball), where as Lillard plays defense like Luka, if Luka were 5 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter. He's slow, he's lazy, he doesn't pay attention, AND basically anyone in the league can go right through him if they want (Luka's one saving grace is that he's bulky and has quick hands, making him difficult to post up). The only "star" player in the entire league that is worse defensively is Trae Young, and that's literally the only good thing I can say about Lillard's defense.

The selling point for Lillard is that he's a playoff killer, but Kyrie has been a big part of teams that have won 15 playoff series, he's been to 4 finals, and he's got one of the most clutch shots in NBA history. Lillard has some crazy playoff moments too (I believe he's the only player to have more than one series ending buzzer beater), but he's also won just 4 playoff series in 12 years, and has never won a game beyond round 2. Kyrie is historically unreliable, but he hasn't shown that since arriving in Dallas yet, while Lillard is a couple years older and has missed a lot of time recently. If Lillard ever goes deep into the playoffs, he'll be hunted to extinction on defense at a level that would make Luka turn his head in disgust.
Kyrie is definitely closer to being a two-way player. But you're not hiring either one to play defense. At least with Dame, you're know you're getting reliably elite production at one end, and that nothing's getting inside his head. Maybe I'm overreacting to the playoffs that just transpired in which KI regularly disappeared for quarters, halves and full games in Boston, but I feel that there's no certain proposition with him at this point in his career. The playoff heroics were a long time ago, and he only played 58 games this season (in contrast to Dame, who, yes, got hurt in the playoffs but played 73 in the regular season and has played ~50% more games than KI over the past four seasons).

Maybe the takeaway is that neither should be ranked so high ;)
 

Euclis20

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I definitely don't mean to pump Kyrie up at all, I'm just really down on Lillard at the moment. I think if he can't be an absolutely elite offensive player (and he was far from that this season), he'll be a legit burden on a team with title hopes. It seems noteworthy that Boston spent all of their time trying to attack Luka rather than Kyrie, and I think Lillard is solidly worse than Luka on defense. Part of that may have been the additional value of tiring out Luka to make his offense less effective, but still.

I'm not particularly bullish on either guy at the moment.
 

benhogan

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I get your point, but a lot of those defense guys are younger guys on rookie deals, while the offensive guys are veterans.
1 guy. Suggs. He should get an extension this year.

You can look at McDaniels, Caruso, and Jones extensions relative to the pointz getters extensions.

I think it's great, and so do the Celtics/Brad. That's how you pretty much get Derrick White on a below-market deal for 4 seasons

The Lakers botching Caruso was malpractice
 

tims4wins

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I’m probably alone on this hill but I’m not trading Tatum for anyone in the league today. And I’m not a fanboy.
 

TomRicardo

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He had the 3rd best defensive rating in the league last year behind only Wemby and Gobert.
And Luka had a better defensive rating than Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Jrue Holiday for the playoffs.

Edit - Take a second, look at the stats, think does this match what I see.
 

BigSoxFan

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I’m probably alone on this hill but I’m not trading Tatum for anyone in the league today. And I’m not a fanboy.
It’s not a crazy position. There are only a handful or fewer guys you’d even consider and we already know the roster is set up perfectly around the Jays.

For me, the consideration set is 2 guys: Jokic and Wemby. Jokic has a higher ceiling but he turns 30 next year. Tatum turns 27 next season. Wemby is only 20 and he probably has a higher upside but he comes with a lot of health uncertainty given his size.

Guys like Giannis, SGA, Doncic, and Edwards are all worthy of being discussed but have their own set of physical or other issues. I don’t see a compelling reason to trade Tatum for any of them though.
 

TomRicardo

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Playoffs is clearly skewed by sample size given Orlandos entire team basically tops the leader board for the playoffs.
Defensive Rating is skewed by high usage creators whose team's have a tough time scoring without them, leading to transition offense making them artifiically look better at defense. Comparing the Mavs to Celtics in the playofs is fair on sample size as they both ~20 games against various teams.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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And Luka had a better defensive rating than Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, and Jrue Holiday for the playoffs.

Edit - Take a second, look at the stats, think does this match what I see.
Maybe I am missing something but NBA.com has Jrue's playoff DRtg at 107.3; DW's at 108.1; Doncic's at 109.4; and JB's 109.9. JT was at 108.6. KP was at 101.6 and Al was at 106.6.
 

m0ckduck

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Donovan Mitchell is a guy that the Ringer list probably underrates a bit at #16, and whom I could imagine really vaulting up the rankings next season, depending on how the off-season stuff turns out. At a glance, he blends into a group of offensively-gifted but small and defensively-challenged guards that includes Brunson and Hailburton. Plus, the entire situation in Cleveland has been sort of confusing and depressing, failing to generate the kind of uplift that Brunson and Haliburton have enjoyed from their team narratives. But, he's a much more creditable two-player than either of those guys. Darko LOVES him, has him up there in Luka territory, near Jayton Tatum territory (Darko adores JT). A new compelling team situation next year (whether it happens on a drastically-reconfigured Cleveland or elsewhere) could result in a real monster year for him. He's my pick for "Top 50 guy who could jump 9-10 spots next year" (not counting Wemby, who's off the board).

edit: put another way, he's had the most consistently boring team situations (Cleveland and Utah) of all the guys in the top 20, is being being punished a bit for that.
 
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Eddie Jurak

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As far as the Ringer list goes:
  • Doncic at #2 seems ludicrous to me, after what we just saw of him.
  • Tatum #5 above Embiid #6 is as it should be.
  • Kawhi #14... is his future too much in doubt to rate him that high?
  • Brown at #15 feels a little high to me, but coming of ECF and Finals MVP maybe he deserves the bump
  • Wemby at #17, fair for now, and probably as low as he will ever be for a long time
  • Irving #25... seems high
  • Ingram #35... remember back in the day, when the 2016 was two players deep and KOC was basically the only guy who preferred Ingram over Simmons? It's good to have the last laugh (see #15).
  • White and Holiday at #37 and #38. This might overrate White a bit and underrate Holiday by a bit? Still, Celtics have 4 of the top 38 according to this list.
  • Porzingis #42. Make that 5 of the top 42. This Porzingis rating makes sense if you take his injury status into account. If you don't he should be quite a bit higher.
  • Horford #100. This seems too low. On the one hand, he's near the end of his career. On the other, would swapping Brook Lopez (#62) in for him make the Celtics a better team?
 

Kliq

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As far as the Ringer list goes:
  • Doncic at #2 seems ludicrous to me, after what we just saw of him.
  • Tatum #5 above Embiid #6 is as it should be.
  • Kawhi #14... is his future too much in doubt to rate him that high?
  • Brown at #15 feels a little high to me, but coming of ECF and Finals MVP maybe he deserves the bump
  • Wemby at #17, fair for now, and probably as low as he will ever be for a long time
  • Irving #25... seems high
  • Ingram #35... remember back in the day, when the 2016 was two players deep and KOC was basically the only guy who preferred Ingram over Simmons? It's good to have the last laugh (see #15).
  • White and Holiday at #37 and #38. This might overrate White a bit and underrate Holiday by a bit? Still, Celtics have 4 of the top 38 according to this list.
  • Porzingis #42. Make that 5 of the top 42. This Porzingis rating makes sense if you take his injury status into account. If you don't he should be quite a bit higher.
  • Horford #100. This seems too low. On the one hand, he's near the end of his career. On the other, would swapping Brook Lopez (#62) in for him make the Celtics a better team?
It's an interesting thought--Lopez is a better rim protector than Al, but Al is superior in covering in space. In the playoffs I'd rather have the big that can do that, as opposed to Lopez forcing you to kind of play drop coverage and not having the flexibility to play different ways.
 

kfoss99

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What are the rules of these? A complete redraft? A one for one trade and the rest of the roster stays.

On a one for one trade of Tatum or Brown this past season, who still gives you a championship? Due to injuries, maybe only Jokic, Curry, and LeBron. But the Celtics had the perfect system and Tatum and Brown perfect cogs.

If you're redrafting the league for, say, one year, You have Jokic, Curry, LeBron, Tatum, Giannis, Wemby, Doncic, Durant, SGA, Ant Edwards, Embiid, Kawhi in some order and hope some of those guys stay healthy.

Say, redraft for, say, five years and the old heads drop off and the injury prone drop off.

The Ringer having Doncic ahead of Tatum, still, is crazy. You switch those two and the whole Celtics system breaks down. But, Tatum hoisted the trophy AND has some fuel for his fire.

Due to age, production, and health, I think I'd rank Tatum in the top three untradable. Denver, San Antonio, and the Celtics aren't trading those guys.

But the Suns are fielding calls for Durant and Booker, if they could get Tatum and Brown. I'm sure the Mavs would cut loose Kyrie in a second for Brown.

As we know, these are meaningless, but fun discussions. I'm riding and dying with Tatum at #1 and I don't think that's entirely green-colored glasses.
 

benhogan

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You ride with the JAYs (26/27) because the future of the NBA is strong, healthy 2-way wings that can guard 1-5
+ Initiate the offense
+ Spread the defense

That's where you want to spend your CAP.

While not capable of guarding 5s, White/Hauser extensions can't get done soon enough.

Ranking KP after White/Holiday is completely fair. He should be out of the TOP50 due to his injury history which isn't luck-based & won't magically improve.

Really enjoyed what Porzingis gave Boston this year. BUT we all witnessed the C's ex-KP, they were still the best team in the NBA.

I don't get highly-ranking guys who miss a ton of games, especially MAX players whose salaries have a knock-on effect on the rest of the roster. If we're going to analyze players on past % of shots made, why not analyze them on past games played?

It's a make-or-miss league & Injury luck are the two lamest excuses in the NBA.
 

Eric Fernsten's Disco Mustache

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The 4 All-Defense perimeter wings got paid $32MM last season
PointZ! getters made $155M last season

I'm not disagreeing with your main point, which I hear as a comment on "what are people paying for wins?"

But I'd add to it that most NBA owners see themselves in the entertainment business. In that business player salaries are a cost invested in generating attention that you can monetize through the channels of ticket sales, merch sales, social media attention, and the like

I'm not sure it's a stretch that for the large majority of casual / borderline NBA fans you make a lot more money monetizing PointZ than you do defense.

Everybody wants to win. But, as the Golden State Warriors showed, your ownership group makes a lot more money winning with offense than with defense
 

benhogan

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I'm not disagreeing with your main point, which I hear as a comment on "what are people paying for wins?"

But I'd add to it that most NBA owners see themselves in the entertainment business. In that business player salaries are a cost invested in generating attention that you can monetize through the channels of ticket sales, merch sales, social media attention, and the like

I'm not sure it's a stretch that for the large majority of casual / borderline NBA fans you make a lot more money monetizing PointZ than you do defense.

Everybody wants to win. But, as the Golden State Warriors showed, your ownership group makes a lot more money winning with offense than with defense
100% agree. The NBA Media & Fans (hence owners) love themselves some pointZ.

I think the Warriors recently pivoted from overpaying for pointZ by drop-kicking a young Jordan Poole, re-signing Dray & bringing back GP3.

Just note GSW had the
#1 rated defense in 2015
#2 rated defense in 2017
#1 rated defense in 2022 (17th rated offense)

Getting Caruso Day 1 of the offseason is just more clever work by Sam Presti.
 
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the moops

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On a one for one trade of Tatum or Brown this past season, who still gives you a championship? Due to injuries, maybe only Jokic, Curry, and LeBron
The Celtics just roles through the playoffs with a 16-3 record. There is a chance that if either Tatum or Brown don’t play they still would have won it all (doubtful but not impossible). I think there are probably a couple dozen guys you could have swapped in for Tatum or Brown and the Celts still win the title. And if not a couple dozen certainly more that just the 3 you listed.

Just a few stars on top of my head. Durant, AD, Booker, SGA, PG, Ant, Wemby, Luka, Markkanen, Bam. And then there are role players who also could slide in and I still think Celts win.
 
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Euclis20

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I think Luka enters next year on a lot of #1 lists. A healthy portion of the media and fanbase still overrates him despite ample evidence that his defense is dogshit, especially compared to his peers at the top of the league. Listening to a recent podcast with Simmons and the topic was whether or not he ever wins a title. Bill listed off some of the best players to never win (Barkley, Malone, Baylor, Ewing, Harden, Nash, Gervin, CP3, Stockton, Iverson), and concludes by saying that "Luka is better than all of those guys." He's definitely better than a few, but that group won a combined 6 MVPs (off the top of my head, I think), and it feels noteworthy that the two worst defenders in that group (Harden and Nash) never even made the finals as one of the two main guys.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I have noted this along the way, but I do think it is POSSIBLE that Luka realizes he needs to evolve his body. He's never going to be a good defensive wing/perimeter guy but if he dropped 10-15 pounds and enhanced his conditioning he could be credible - he averaged 1.4 steals and has good hands and reasonable anticipation, and he can use his body and be effective down low. If he is even a somwhat credible defender, he probably is the second-best player in the league (I do not see any case for him over Joker - he's slightly worse offensively, a lot worse defensively, a lot worse as a rebounding and worse as a leader).

Now, given history the odds are that will NOT happen, and then I'll be with many of you in having him lower on my personal list. But he does seem to care (he stopped whining after game 3, for example) and his offensive game, while a bit heliocentric to watch, truly is elite so it is something to consider.
 

Euclis20

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Now would be the time for that, because even considering his incredible playoff run, he was definitely embarrassed at the end of it. He's just 25, but as with Tatum, he's closer to his ceiling than you'd expect for someone his age because he's played in so many pressure packed moments and games (he doesn't have the 5 conference finals trips that Tatum has, but his international success plays a factor here, too).
 

benhogan

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The Celtics just roles through the playoffs with a 16-3 record. There is a chance that if either Tatum or Brown don’t play they still would have won it all (doubtful but not impossible). I think there are probably a couple dozen guys you could have swapped in for Tatum or Brown and the Celts still win the title. And if not a couple dozen certainly more that just the 3 you listed.

Just a few stars on top of my head. Durant, AD, Booker, SGA, PG, Ant, Wemby, Luka, Markkanen, Bam. And then there are role players who also could slide in and I still think Celts win.
Maybe? The Celtics roster was by far the best #3-8 team in the NBA, so Boston wasn't as dependent on their #1 & 2 offensive scoring options. Heck they played great w/out their #3 scoring option for a large part of the playoffs/season.

The C's had an easy EC playoff road, so agree they probably make the Finals. Dallas might be a different story.

A big part of the C's rinsing the MAVs was Brown's on-ball defense (won him MVP) on the greatest offensive backcourt of All-Time & Tatum's ability to guard Centers & destroy PnR. Boston took away Dallas rim runs, Corner3s, and dribble penetration in large part to the JAYs D. So you'd want to find guys who are versatile enough to play that intense on defense for 40+ mpg, while being able to run an offense, distribute, and score.