2022-23 Roster Breakdown: The Wings

With the first Celtics preseason game just days away, it’s time that we break down the roster and give an idea of what the team’s depth chart will look like heading into the 2022-23 Season.

Rather than classifying the players with the traditional 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 positional tags, we’re taking a page out of President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens’ book by placing each athlete into one of the following three roles:

  1. Ball Handlers – Typically played by the 1.
  2. Wings – A hybrid between the 2, 3, and 4.
  3. Bigs – A hybrid between the 4 and the 5.

Yesterday, we tipped off our roster breakdown series with Boston’s ball handlers. Today, we present their perimeter mates – the wings.

Wings are typically the most versatile players on the floor and are relied upon to take on a heavy scoring load. Defensively, they’ll often be tasked with suppressing elite scorers on opposing teams. Depending on their skill set, they may also be assigned ball-handling duties or they may slide into the frontcourt to take on opposing bigs.

At the moment, the C’s are light at the wing position with only three healthy traditional wings on the full-time roster. Though, fortunately, Boston's size and versatility at the ball-handling position should allow guys like Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart to slide up into a wing role when needed. Plus, three open roster spots remain, so we could see some additions in the coming weeks.

For now, here’s what Boston’s working with:

Jayson Tatum

In each of his five seasons, Jayson Tatum has proven something new. Last season, it was showing that he could be the lead man in carrying his team to the NBA Finals.

Tatum posted regular-season career highs of 26.9 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while making the second most 3-pointers in a single season in Celtics history with 230. He wound up earning his first selection to the All-NBA First Team, solidifying his case for being a top 5 player.

In the playoffs, he was both the league’s leading scorer (615 points) and leading assister (148 assists) and came up just two wins shy of earning his first ring.

So what does the 24-year-old have to prove in his sixth campaign? Will it be an MVP season? A championship run? Both?

It’s all too early to tell, but what we can tell you is that Tatum is still not even close to reaching his ceiling and he has not yet failed to improve his game from one season to the next. So we should be in store for another monster year from Big Deuce.

Jaylen Brown

Despite not having a ton of wing depth, Boston still has arguably the best overall wing talent. With Jaylen Brown at Tatum’s side, the C’s have two legitimate Top 25 players who can play the same position at the same time.

That is a commodity that every team in the league wishes it could have.

Brown deserves just as much praise as Tatum for helping to carry Boston to its first Finals appearance in more than a decade. In the regular season, Brown averaged 23.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a career-high 3.5 assists per game. And in the playoffs, he was one of the team’s most reliable shooters, connecting on 47.0 percent of his shots from the field, including 37.3 percent from 3-point range.

Brown was also Boston’s leading scorer in the Finals with a mark of 23.5 points per game, and he capped the series with a 34-point effort in Game 6.

We’ve seen Brown take leaps in both his shooting and defense over the years; the next step for him is improving as both a playmaker and ball handler. If he does that while helping Boston maintain its status as a contender, he could very well join Tatum in the All-NBA discussion by season’s end.

Sam Hauser

Sam Hauser has an opportunity to earn a significant role increase this season, as the 24-year-old sophomore transitions from a two-way contract to a full-time roster spot.

The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter showed his worth with the Maine Celtics during his rookie campaign, averaging 20.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.2 assists during the G League regular season. He also made the most of his 158 minutes with the NBA squad, shooting 43.2 percent from deep on 44 attempts – a mark which would have surpassed Payton Pritchard’s team-leading clip by two full percentage points.

On the day before training camp began, Hauser said, “I think I can bring a good aspect to the floor in my shooting ability and spacing the floor, and just being a good team defender and playing off these guys.”

Boston could certainly use another shooter off the bench, and Hauser has given the coaching staff every reason to believe that he can step up.

Danilo Gallinari

It’s possible that we may not see Danilo Gallinari suit up for the Celtics this season after tearing his ACL in August, but his return hasn’t been ruled out. Therefore, we’re going to include him in our breakdown just in case he recovers in time to make a late-season appearance.

Gallinari could eventually become a key piece off the bench, as he’s capable of scoring buckets in bunches. He’s averaged 15.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game over the course of his 14-year NBA career. During that time, he’s made 1,426 3-pointers, which places him among the top 50 3-point shooters in NBA history.

It typically takes six-to-12 months to recover from ACL surgery, so there is no certainty that Gallinari will play, but we’ll be holding out hope for a speedy rehab process.