Although the Celtics had an open trade deadline, their cornerstone activity was their purchase Spurs guard Derrick White.
The Celtics sent Romeo Langford, Josh Richardson and a first-round selection to the Spurs just an hour before the deadline for the 27-year old guard. Five things you need to know about the new Celtic.
This is a 6-foot-4, guard who saw a problem in his team's defense. He then rotated and grabbed a dunk from the hyper-athletic, 6-foot-11 center.
This type of play may remind you of a point guard on the Celtics' roster currently wearing the No. His return to the lineup in recent weeks sparked a major turnaround for the Celtics' season. White is an aggressive and instinctive defensive player. White averages one steal per game, and seems to be able to grab a lot of them by simply sticking his hands up in the air at just the right moment -- much like a linebacker reading the eyes of a quarterback.
White was on the floor and the Spurs scored 8.1 points per 100 possessions more defensively than when he wasn't there per Cleaning The Glass. This is a remarkable feat considering that guards rarely have an impact on advanced defensive statistics. White ranks in White's 94th percentile.
The Celtics are a unique and lethal defensive team with White. White is second in the league with 0.9 blocks per game, which is only Matisse Thybulle's lead among guards. Houdek pointed out that he can pull his body away from driving players, but he also excels at making up ground quickly, even though he isn’t an athlete or very long (by NBA standards), with a 6-foot-7 wingspan.
White's 3-point shooting is not great, especially in corners.
White, like Smart, compiles respectable offensive statistics - 14.4 points on 42.6/31.4/86.9% shooting splits - but struggles from 3-point range.
White's 3-point shooting ability is somewhat baffling. White is a great free-throw shooter and hits more than half of his mid-range shots within the extended free-throw line. Above the break, he's a league-average or better-than-league-average 3-point shooter.
However, he is a complete disaster in the corners -- 11-for 49 this season.
Grant Williams was not traded by the Celtics at the deadline.
White traveled a long road to get to the NBA.
White was only 6'0" and 155 lbs when he graduated high school. No Division I or II school expressed interest in White, despite his high score. Jeff Eisenberg took the baby-faced picture of White in highschool. It is well worth looking at.
White received an offer from an NAIA school. When that coach got a job at Division II school, White kept his interest in White. White accepted the offer and grew nearly five inches in that summer. White was named freshman of the year by his conference because of his athleticism and height. After his junior year, he decided to transfer to Colorado and made it to the first round in the NBA Draft.
Eisenberg was told by Mike Rohn, a Colorado assistant. "You're talking to a 6-foot skinny man that no one thought could play college basketball. Although the growth spurt was important, they don't just give you these opportunities simply because you are a tall guard.
White had a connection to the Celtics in the past
The 2019 FIBA World Cup Team USA -- which came in 7th place despite having struggled tremendously -- was full Celtics connections. These connections have only grown in the past few years. The team was comprised of Jayson Tatum (Jaylen Brown), Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart. Three of those players are still with the Celtics while White, who also played for the team, replaces Walker. Ime Udoka was also added to the Celtics' roster.
Robert Williams was perhaps not in the 2019 FIBA World Cup team.
For now, the Celtics intend to remove White from the bench.
According to the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach the Celtics aren't looking to change their starting lineup. In fact, they're outscoring rivals by an absurd 29.5 per 100 possessions. White was unlikely to make it into the team despite a generous contract.
The Celtics may not be able to keep Horford after this season, especially after trading Daniel Theis. The Celtics have the opportunity to look at the lineups of Smart, Brown Tatum, Robert Williams, White, and Tatum as they prepare for the future. This grouping has few defensive holes.
Jayson Tatum's spacing and Jaylen brown's help helped Josh Richardson improve his 3-point shooting. The Celtics may be on to something if White improves 3-point shooting, as his 86.9% free-throw shooting suggests.