C's All-Star Presence Will Be First of its Kind in NBA History
LOS ANGELES – If All-Star weekend selections have shown us one thing about the Boston Celtics, it’s that they are charting unprecedented territory in regard to how perfectly they’re set up for now and for the future.
Boston on Wednesday became just the second team in NBA history to have two All-Star players and two separate Rising Stars players on the same team. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving are the All-Stars, while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are the Rising Stars.
Based upon what we know at this moment, Boston’s foursome is undoubtedly more prolific than the other foursome to have pulled off this feat. This Celtics group is unlike any foursome that has ever represented a team at an All-Star weekend.
The Rising Stars game was first played in 1994. The Celtics and the 2011 Spurs account for the only two instances in 24 total seasons (there was no All-Star weekend in 1999) to achieve the feat of having two players in each game, with no overlap.
San Antonio had Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili play in the 2011 All-Star game, while Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair played in the Rising Stars game.
Horford and Irving may not be on Duncan and Ginobili’s level as just yet as a duo, but they’re both five-time All-Stars with plenty of tread left on their tires. Brown and Tatum, meanwhile, blow the Neal-Blair duo out of the water.
Neal and Blair aren’t even in the NBA anymore.
Brown ranks second on the 35-14 Celtics in scoring with an average of 14.0 points per game, and Tatum is right behind him in third place with an average of 13.6 PPG. Both players average more PPG than their All-Star big man, Horford.
By comparison, Neal and Blair combined to average 18.1 points per game for the Spurs during the 2010-11 season.
Brown was selected to the team one year after being snubbed from the game. He did not make the roster despite being a strong contributor to the eventual No. 1 seed in the East, and not everyone agreed with that decision.
“I thought last year he probably should have been on [the Rising Stars team] too,” Brad Stevens said Wednesday night.
This season, there really was no question as to whether or not he should be selected. It was a no-brainer.
Brown has more than doubled his scoring average from 5.7 PPG prior to last year’s All-Star break all the way up to 14.0 PPG this season. He is also upped his rebounding from 2.6 rebounds per game to 5.6, and he has started all 44 games he has appeared in this season while shooting 37.2 percent from 3-point range.
He has been a highly impactful player on the Eastern Conference’s top team.
“I think that he’s obviously a more consistent scorer,” Stevens said of Brown. “He’s a guy who’s been called upon to do things in crunch-time in a lot of different games and make plays for us. He certainly has shown himself very capable on the defensive end.”
The same can be said for Tatum, who was also a shoo-in for the game. Tatum ranks third in all of the NBA in 3-point percentage with a mark of 45.0 percent, and he ranks sixth among rookies in scoring with an average of 13.6 PPG.
The difference between Tatum and the five rookies who rank ahead of him in the scoring column? He’s the only one playing for a winning team, and he’s the only one who more often than not is the third or fourth option within his team’s offense.
There is no doubt that if Tatum happened to be playing for a lottery-bound team, he would be challenging for the scoring crown among rookies.
Every team in the league would love to wake up and have Brown and Tatum walking into its facility. They’re that good, and their upside is that high.
Every team in the league would also kill to have Irving and Horford, two players who impact winning at the highest of levels, on their squad.
This is unprecedented territory. The Celtics have two five-time All-Stars who continue to roll along in their careers, all while their two talented young teammates show the world that they too will soon be playing in the big game in February.
The 2011 Spurs didn’t have that, and neither has any other team in the Rising Stars era.