Report card, part 2 of 2: grading the Boston Celtics’ reserves

In part one, CelticsBlog took a look at the Celtics’ starters and how they’ve done so far this season.

Here’s a closer look at the rock-solid reserves – what they’ve done well to this point and what they can improve upon moving forward.

Grant Williams: A (also mentioned in the starters post)

Williams, who started seven games, has established himself as one of the best role players in the NBA. His up-fake, side-step 3 is lethal – think Kareem’s hook or Duncan’s bank shot (this is a joke; do n’t worry). Defenders have to respect the shot and close out, and he either side-steps or drives by them when they do so.

He’s putting up 10.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per night – all career highs by a landslide – and is shooting a career-best 57.8 percent from the floor and 48.2 percent from 3. Let that sink in for a second. This is the same Williams who missed his first 25 3-point attempts. Twenty-five!

He’s come a long way and deserves a lot of credit for diversifying his game. He’s a weapon as a shooter, a driver, and finisher, a passer, a rebounder, a defender and a hustle guy. Now he just has to stop complaining to the refs so much, but he doesn’t get any demerits for that.

Malcolm Brogdon: B+

For many players, 13 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists would be a dream season. For Brogdon, it’s a bit of a down start to the year.

Of course, a large percentage of that statistical dip is because of the elite players he has around him. Brogdon has noted that this is the most talented team he’s ever been on, and his willingness to come off the bench indicates that he’s in Boston for one reason – to win a championship.

At times, he’s looked in command and exactly like the missing piece they needed. In other instances, he’s missed open shots and has struggled to get into a rhythm. Brogdon has absolutely played well and helped the Celtics win, but there’s no question he can play better. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.

Sam HauserA

I’ll tell my grandkids this was Steph Curry. But seriously, how wild has this stretch been? Hauser is consistently in the top 10 in the NBA in 3-point percentage, helps the Celtics immensely with his court awareness and is a plus-minus king.

When are teams going to learn to stop picking on him on the other end? He’s not Scottie Pippen, but he’s fully capable of slowing down opposing players who think it’s a mismatch and are in for a surprise. He anticipates really well, knows the mind of a shooter and plays hard.

Hauser is the shooter the Celtics have needed for quite some time, and he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for maximizing the opportunity in front of him. Even if his numbers dip, his presence is invaluable.

Payton Pritchard: B+

Pritchard’s in a tricky spot. He’s the odd man out on the best team in the league, and he can go from playing 24 minutes one night to playing five the next.

Make no mistake, Marcus Smart, Brogdon and Derrick White should certainly log more minutes, but Pritchard has earned more of a role than he has at the moment. He’s looked aggressive of late and has willed the Celtics back into games with his hustle and grit.

If given more of an opportunity, his production would likely increase. At the moment, he ca n’t get more than a B+ – though it’s largely out of his control.

Luke KornetA-

Don’t look now, but Kornet has the third best player efficiency rating on the Celtics behind Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Player efficiency rating (PER) measures overall contributions to a game, and Kornet is a very solid 71st in the NBA – right behind Paul George and ahead of Tyler Herro, Brandon Ingram and Chris Paul.

Of course he doesn’t have as much of a role as those players, but he’s been extremely dependable when called upon. Brad Stevens may be onto something. Don’t expect Kornet to fill up the stat sheet, but do expect him to continue to contribute to winning.

He fills a specific need on the roster more so than anyone else fills that need, and it’s important that he continues to log minutes.

Blake GriffinB

Griffin has only played in seven games, but he’s been serviceable and dependable for the most part. The Celtics don’t need him to do a lot – he just set solid screens, hustle, rebound and hit the occasional 3. He’s done that decently well.

After shooting 25 percent in October, he’s up to 54.5 percent in November. Griffin’s decision-making can improve, as he’s averaging 0.6 turnovers in 11.1 minutes per game.

He needs to keep it simple, set Tatum and Brown up and continue to bring everyone together as he has. There will be a “Blake Griffin Game” at some point in the playoffs. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

Noah VonlehB

Vonleh is shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3, and he’s averaging almost nine rebounds per 30 minutes, so giving him anything less than a B would be unfair.

The Celtics are 10-2 in games where he’s seen the floor and 4-0 in games where he’s played 15 minutes or more. He fits in well with the pieces around him and also fills a need.

At the same time, he’s only scored two points in his last five games. If he’s purposeful in his rolls to the rim, Marcus Smart, Brogdon and White will find him. He doesn’t need to necessarily look for shots, but he needs to be a threat near the basket.

Justin Jackson: Incomplete

Jackson is an intriguing player with a unique skill set, but the Celtics are simply so deep that they don’t really have any room for him to see regular action.

JD Davison: Incomplete

Same deal here. Davison likely won’t see much time moving forward unless something changes, but he has a great first step, a strong motor and a bright future.

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