Boston Celtics 2019-20 Team Awards
Even if we only see a few regular season “tune-up” games upon the return of the NBA, we have likely already seen a large enough sample size to hand out Team Awards for this oddball of a season. On behalf of OTG, I will be looking at my hometown team, the Boston Celtics. The C’s suspended play with a record of 43-21 and would be the 3rd seed if the playoffs started today. They have had a great season, considering noteworthy players like Kyrie Irving and Al Horford left in free agency last summer.
As a Celtics fan, it was difficult to not create an award for so many of my favorite players. A number of players stepped up for the Celtics this season, allowing them to remain incredibly competitive in the East.
MVP: Jayson Tatum
Tatum put the entire league on notice this season and has established himself as one of the NBA’s brightest young stars. His 23.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg, and 2.9 apg were all career highs. Tatum’s percentage of shots that were “long twos” (from 16 feet to the three-point line) was cut in half as he developed into a more efficient offensive player. He played the majority of his minutes at the 4-spot after mostly playing the wing during his first two seasons. Tatum firmly grasped the alpha role on this team, leading Boston in usage rate and win shares. He earns my Boston Celtics MVP award for the 2019-2020 season; hopefully the first of many for this 22-year-old.
DPOY: Marcus Smart
A self-proclaimed “stretch 6,” Smart continues to uphold his reputation as one of the league’s toughest players and most versatile defenders. He sets the tone for Boston's defense; their defensive rating of 106.2 ranked fourth-best in the NBA. Among players with at least 50 games played this year, Smart ranks 30th in defensive rating, 10th in steals, and 11th in defensive win shares. He should repeat as one of the guards on the All-Defensive 1st team and could even earn some stray league-wide DPOY votes. Smart is the heart and soul of this Boston team and is a major reason the Celtics' defense didn’t skip a beat after the departure of Al Horford.
6MOTY: Brad Wanamaker
I really wanted to cop-out and select Marcus Smart for this award, but his 39 starts in 53 games technically make him ineligible to win. Had he started less than half his games, Smart could warrant consideration for the NBA’s 6th man award. Choosing the next man up for this award displays the lack of depth that could eventually lead to the Celtics' downfall in the playoffs. They need to improve their bench unit in order to take a significant step toward title contention next season.
With that said, I begrudgingly award the Celtics 6th man of the year award to Brad Wanamaker. While many Celtics' fans were left hoping for more out of Wanamaker, he provided some of the most consistent minutes of the bench this season. His +1.2 DBPM was third best among the ten Celtics who played the most minutes this season. Brad fits into either guard position, and was shooting 37% from three. At the end of the day, his above-all-else consistent role in the rotation earns him this award.
MIP: Jaylen Brown
Jaylen had a bounce back year after struggling during the Celtics shaky 2018-2019 season. He returned to the starting lineup and thrived in a larger role with career highs of 20.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, and 2.2 apg. He finished 11th in the Eastern Conference in All-Star voting for guards. Celtics' fans were thrilled with Jaylen’s bounce-back season, and hope that he can continue to grow alongside Jayson Tatum, giving Boston a frightening 1-2 punch on the wing moving forward.
ROY: Grant Williams
Grant Williams stood out among a number of Celtics rookies as the most consistent contributor on a nightly basis. The Celtics selected the 6' 6" Williams with the 22nd overall pick out of Tennessee last summer. He is projected to grow into a high-level role player; someone who can adapt his game and fill a number of key needs for a contender. Grant led Celtics' rookies in games, minutes, points, and rebounds while providing minutes at both forward spots and center. He really is a chameleon, providing value next to almost any combination of players he shares the court with. The Celtics featured a number of first-year players this season, including Romeo Langford, Carsen Edwards, Javonte Green, Tre Waters, Vincent Poirier, and of course, Tacko Fall. Williams stood out the most among this sea of rookies to claim this award, and will hopefully continue to be a fixture in the C’s rotation for years to come.