Boston Celtics

Mazzulla on C's All-Star snubs: ‘Clearly winning is not important'

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was not thrilled after Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis were not chosen.

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With injuries to Joel Embiid and Julius Randle, NBA commissioner Adam Silver elected to replace them in the 2024 NBA All-Star Game with Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors.

The Boston Celtics are sending superstar forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to the All-Star game, their fifth and third nods respectively, but were surprised to see guard Derrick White and big man Kristaps Porzingis left off of the list of All-Stars.

When it was announced that the commissioner would be replacing Embiid and Randle, chatter around the league caused a sense of belief that Porzingis or White could be named as a replacement. Neither were, frustrating Boston's head coach Joe Mazzulla.

"Clearly winning is not important, huh? Winning’s not valuable," Mazzulla said when asked about the All-Star replacements. "How could you not put both of those guys in? Winning’s not the most important in the league."

The Celtics currently have an NBA-best 41-12 record that wouldn't have been obtainable without the progression of White and Porzingis.

White is putting up career-best numbers in nearly every stat category, posting 15.3 points on 45.6 percent from the field, 4.8 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and a steal per game. The former Spur has been one of Boston's most consistent clutch players in late-game moments, time and time again hitting game-deciding shots on offense or making game-sealing plays on defense. Should he have been named an All-Star replacement, the 2023 All-Defensive team honoree would have secured his first All-Star nod.

In his first year with the Celtics, Porzingis has seemingly reverted to his younger self. At 7-foot-2, surrounded by a team full of All-Star caliber players, Porzingis has created a matchup nightmare against most teams, overpowering smaller players in the paint while also boasting the ability to spread the floor and consistently hit shots from deep. At 20.4 points on 52.9 percent from the field, seven rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game, the Latvian would have made a worthy All-Star replacement in what would have been the second nod of his career.

"They are two guys that get it," Mazzulla added of Porzingis and White. "They are the guys that have been around and just want to play the right way -- want be a part of winning -- and winning’s the most important thing to those two guys. At the end of the day, that's all that matters."

Young's Hawks squad currently sits outside of a playoff spot, claiming the No. 10 seed with a 24-30 record. While Young is having a solid year, showcasing a career-high 10.9 assists paired with his 27 points per game, he's failed to convert his on-the-court performance into wins. This year will mark the former No. 5 pick's third All-Star nod.

Barnes' Raptors have been even worse, falling to a 19-35 record on the season. To the 22-year-old's credit, Barnes is averaging career-high's across the board with 20.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game, but it hasn't helped his team win. Silver's decision to name the 2022 Rookie of the Year as a replacement could be seen as a business decision to help add interest in the All-Star weekend festivities from across the border in Canada.

In a league that all too often puts personal accomplishments over team success, Mazzulla can at least be proud that his team has fully bought in to his team-first approach by putting the team and desire to win over everything else.

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