Top 50 Greatest Boston Celtics Players

Introduction

The Boston Celtics are the well… Boston Red Sox of basketball. What I mean by that is their decades-long rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers seems eerily similar to that of the Red Sox and Yankees. While the Yankees and Lakers are the most storied franchises, primarily due to their location, the Celtics and Red Sox have made Boston sports fans happy for many years. For the Celtics, they have more titles (17) than any other team in the NBA and have produced some of the league’s greatest players. In addition, the Celtics have created some of the greatest moments in sports history. This list will pay homage to the 50 greatest players in Boston Celtics’ history.

Rank Name GP PTS/GREB/GAST/GFG%3PT%STL/GBLK/GAll-Star AppearancesAll-NBANBA Championships MVPS
1Bill Russell 96315.1N/A4.344.0N/AN/AN/A1211115
2Larry Bird 89724.310.06.349.637.61.7.8121033
3Paul Pierce 134319.74.83.5.445.3681.3.610410
4Bob Cousy 924 18.45.27.5.375N/AN/AN/A131261
5John Havlicek 127020.86.34.8.439N/A1.2.3131180
6Kevin McHale 97117.94.91.7.544.261.41.77130
7Sam Jones 87117.74.92.5.456N/AN/AN/A53100
8Dave Cowens 76617.69.83.8.460.0711.1.98321
9Robert Parrish 161114.56.31.4.537N/A.81.59240
10Tom Heinsohn65418.68.82.0.405N/AN/AN/A6480
11Kevin Garnett 146217.87.83.7.497.2751.31.415911
12Jayson Tatum 218 17.26.12.9.456.3991..1.81000
13Dennis Johnson 110014.13.95.0.445.1721.3.75230
14JoJo White83717.24.04.9.444.1671.3.27220
15Ray Allen 130018.9 3.13.4.452.4001.1.210220
16Rajon Rondo 87310.23.78.3.458.3161.7.14110
17Bill Sharman 71117.83.93.0.426N/AN/AN/A8740
18Tom Sanders 916 9.66.31.1.428N/AN/AN/A8000
19KC Jones 6767.43.54.3.387N/AN/AN/A0080
20Don Nelson 105310.34.91.4.480N/AN/AN/A5000
21Cedric Maxwell 83512.53.82.2.546.053.8.50020
22Danny Ainge 104211.52.04.0.469.3781.1.11020
23Marcus Smart 3949.92.74.0.374.3181.6.40000
24Frank Ramsey62313.45.51.8.399N/AN/AN/A0070
25Jaylen Brown47017.95.22.2.477.3651.0.42100
26Reggie Lewis 45017.63.02.6.488.2001.3.91000
27Antoine Walker 89317.55.63.5.414.3251.2.53010
28Ed Macauley 64117.57.53.2.436N/AN/AN/A7410
29Bill Walton 46813.38.23.4.521.000.82.22221
30Paul Silas 12549.45.62.1.432N/A.6.22030
31Tiny Archibald87318.61.67.4.467.2241.1.16510
32Bailey Howell950 18.7 9.92.0.480N/AN/AN/A6020
33Don Chaney 790 8.41.92.2.436.2001.2.50020
34Isaiah Thomas 52518.11.95.0.436.364.9.12100
35Dee Brown 60811.12.13.7.436.3571.3.30000
36Larry Siegfried55010.8 2.83.5.409N/AN/AN/A0050
37Shaquille O'Neal
120723.77.42.5.582.045.62.3151431
38Kevin Gamble 6499.51.72.0.502.360.7.30000
39Tony Battie8376.13.5.6.488.162.5.90000
40Kendrick Perkins 782 5.44.11.0.530.000.31.20010
41Ed Pickney 7936.83.1.9.535.000.8.50000
42Dana Barros 850 10.51.63.3.460.411.9.11000
43Bob Donham 2736.73.92.6.480N/AN/AN/A0000
44Chris Ford 7949.21.83.4.460.3751.6.30010
45Gerald Henderson 8718.91.13.6.472.3331.1.10030
46Walter McCarthy 5935.31.91.1.392.346.6.30000
47Tony Allen 8208.12.31.5.475.2821.4.40010
48Glen Davis 5148.0 2.9.9.447.182.9.70010
49Al Horford 846 14.06.23.3.520.361.81.25 100
50Paul Westphal 82315.91.54.4.504.2751.3.35410

#1 Bill Russell

Bill Russell is one of the most iconic basketball players of all-time. From his sheer dominance in the 50s and 60s to his stand for social issues, Bill has dominated both arenas with class and dignity. He was a force at the center position, destroying guys that stood in his way. He has the most championships out of any player (11) and most of those are directly due to his presence on the team.

#2 Larry Bird

Larry Bird is the most iconic Boston Celtic player of all-time. Playing during the golden age of basketball, Bird broke the mold of a stereotypical basketball player. Bird had a mentality different of most – he desired the ball in the clutch. Bird is a top-five shooter of all time, an elite defender, a great free-throw shooter, and a competent presence on the court. I can’t see a scenario where Bird doesn’t make the top of any great Celtic list.

#3 Paul Pierce

Nicknamed “The Truth”, Paul Pierce is one of the greatest small forwards of all-time. While only having 1 championship, the longtime Celtic embraced Boston as his own and carried many inferior Celtic teams on his back to long playoff runs. A great scorer, shooter, defender, and rebounder, Pierce was a jack-of-all-trades forward for the Celtics.

#4 Bob Cousy

Bob Cousy was a legend at the point guard position. Part of the Bill Russell coalition, Cousy competed with Jerry West as the league’s best point guard ever at the time. A high-achieving scorer, there wasn’t anything Cousy could not do on the court. He is a legend at heart and holds a dear place in Celtic’s history.

#5 John Havlicek

What is there to say about John Havlicek? He’s a 13-time All-Star, 11-time All-NBA recipient, 8-time NBA champion, Finals MVP, and 8-time All-Defensive Team recipient. In the 70-71 and 71-72 seasons, Havlicek averaged 45.4 minutes per game scoring 28+ points per game. That is simply incredible and a testament to his conditioning. Havlicek is a legend no questions asked.

#6 Kevin McHale

Kevin McHale is arguably one of the greatest offensive power forwards of all-time. McHale has, to this day, some of the best footwork of any big man. While undersized, he knew how to get around lumbering big men and stay on balance. His tandem with Parish made for a strong frontcourt that allowed Larry Bird to do what he does best, shoot the ball.

#7 Sam Jones

Sam Jones was one of the most clutch shooters in NBA history. Nicknamed “Mr. Clutch”, Jones was an impressive scorer who originated the Mamba Mentality. A 20 point scorer for the entirety of his career, Jones brought consistent scoring at the shooting guard position with a knack for making key championship-winning plays.

#8 Dave Cowens

“Big Red” Dave Cowens was an elite center for the Celtics post-Bill Russell. While not as great as Russell, Cowens lived up to his expectations scoring averaging a double-double in points and rebounds for the majority of his career. Cowens was a menace on defense and a reason for the Celtic’s shut down defense in the early 70s. Overall, Cowens is one of the best centers in Celtics history.

#9 Robert Parrish

Robert Parish was the defensive anchor for the 80s Celtics. His rivalry down low with Kareem Abdul-Jabar was legendary as was his chemistry with Kevin McHale on offense. Contributing in all facets of the game, Parrish is often considered the second-best center in Boston Celtic history.

#10 Tom Heinsohn

Tom Heinsohn is a Celtics legend given that he played his entire career with the team and came back to coach the squad to two titles in the 70s. Heinsohn’s skills as a power forward were exceptional for his time. A starting 20 point scorer, Heinsohn dominated opposing frontcourt big men. Alongside Bill Russell, these two made one of the most formidable big men groups in NBA history.

#11 Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett is one of the most dominant power forwards in NBA history. While more dominant with the Timberwolves, Garnett made his name with the Celtics for his defensive play and revamped style of play. You saw Kevin Garnett expand his range beyond the post, which helped the slashing Paul Pierce attack the basket. Garnett was key to the Celtics’ 08’ championship.

#12 Jayson Tatum

I firmly believe that Jayson Tatum can cement himself as a top-ten Celtic. Drafted third overall, Tatum has impressed mightily in his first three seasons. Now a 20+ per game scorer, Tatum is in a position to provide Celtics fans with ten more years of dominance. If it wasn’t for his age and lack of experience, Tatum would be much higher on this list.

#13 Dennis Johnson

Dennis Johnson played for the Celtics in the golden era of basketball in the 1980s. A key figure in this dominant Celtics team, Johnson the starting point who acted as the de facto field general. He was cerebral, knowing exactly where his teammates should be and how to get them the ball in positions to make them the most successful. His status gets overshadowed by fellow greats on the 80s Celtics.

#14 JoJo White

JoJo White played nearly his entire career with the Celtics as their starting point guard. With a catchy name and an electric style of play, Celtics fans immediately gravitated toward White. Averaging roughly 20 points per game, JoJo White was a consistent scorer and playmaking threat. The speed at which he played was next-level and is ultimately why he remains a special Celtic.

#15 Ray Allen

Jesus Shuttlesworth, aka Ray Allen, is arguably the greatest shooter the NBA has ever seen. A 40% three-point shooter throughout his career, Allen consistently hit big shot after big shot with the Celtics. His shooting made Pierce and Garnett’s life much easier, and his soft-spoken nature was refreshing in a locker room of strong personalities.

#16 Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo was the point-guard glue that made the individual games of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett work together. A cerebral basketball mind, Rondo was the de-facto quarterback, always putting passes at the right place and at the right time. His crisp no-look passes and alley-oop assists left young Celtics fans in awe and contributed to their 08 title.

#17 Bill Sharman

Shooting guard Bill Sharman played alongside Ed in the 50s-era Celtics teams. Sharman was dynamic in his role, scoring over 20 points per game and shooting a remarkable 90% from the free-throw line. A 4-time champion, Sharman just edges out Easy Ed for the 10th spot on this list.

#18 Tom Sanders

Hall of Famer Tom “Satch” Sanders secured eight NBA titles in their entire career. Playing the power forward position, Satch was a huge contributor and complement to Bill Russell with his mid-range game and lengthy speed. Without Tom Sanders, the Celtics would not have been as successful as they were in the 1960s.

#19 KC Jones

8 time NBA champion KC Jones was a seamless fit in the Bill Russell-era Celtics. As a point guard, he was truly a leader of men, using his leadership skills and calm presence on the court to keep the offense flowing. His stats may not pop out, but he knew how to find his teammates and contribute to a winning franchise.

#20 Don Nelson

Don Nelson was yet another key piece in Celtic’s dominance in the 60s. Nicknamed the “Nellie Ball” Nelson helped to innovate the sport with his progressive style of play. He was the first true “point forward” and ran many innovative offensive plays in this role. Don Nelson doesn’t get the credit he deserves for pushing the game forward.

#21 Cedric Maxwell

Two-time champion and 1981 finals MVP Cedric Maxwell was truly magnificent for the Celtics. Playing for the arguably best Celtics team in NBA history (81’ Celtics), Maxwell shined in the playoffs scoring roughly 16 points per game, playing consistent defense, and being the heart and soul of the team. Maxwell is a Celtic legend.

#22 Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge makes this for not only his playing career but also his time as an executive with the Celtics. Ainge played 8 seasons with the Celtics as a combo guard and low-end starter. However, he played his role perfectly with scrappy hustle on defense and explosive playmaking on offense. His role in putting together a winning team after the Pierce, Garnett, and Allen split only adds to his legacy with the Celtics.

#23 Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart is one of the most scrappy guys in Celtic’s history. While only 6’3’’ 223 pounds, Smart has proven he can play every position on the field. He wears his heart on his sleeve and somehow always ends up on the ground with the ball in his hands. What he lacks in shooting he makes up with consistent effort. Marcus Smart deserves to make this list.

#24 Frank Ramsey

Ramsey was a seven-time NBA champion with the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics. In six of those seven championship seasons, Ramsey averaged double-digit points despite never averaging more than 30 minutes per game in a season. Further, Ramsey pulled down at least five rebounds in six of his nine NBA seasons for Boston, despite Bill Russell leaving few opportunities for boards. Ramsey is another unsung hero of the Celtics’ championship teams from the late-50s and 60s.

#25 Jaylen Brown

Over the past several seasons, Jaylen Brown has been the second part of the Tatum-Brown duo. The C’s made an NBA Finals in 2021-22 and an Eastern Conference Finals in 2022-23. During that period, Brown made an All-NBA team due to his scoring and playmaking prowess; he is a threat from all three levels offensively.

#26 Reggie Lewis

Reggie Lewis had a great career with the Celtics organization. A 20 point scorer at the shooting guard position, Reggie was the fresh young face of an aging core of Bird, McHale, and Parish. Leading his team in scoring for two seasons, Lewis was the biggest transition piece into the late 90s-era Celtics. Keeping the Celtics afloat was no easy task but he did it anyway, continuing the team’s winning aura.

#27 Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce dominated together in the early 2000s. While the supporting cast outside of Pierce hurt the Celtics, Walker did his thing. A 20 point scorer for most of his seasons with the Celtics, Walker could do it all on offense. His defensive game was underrated as he averaged 1.5 steals per game his entire career. Walker was a special player that was limited by the team around him.

#28 Ed Macauley

Ed Macauley was the prototypical All-American star, college players. Nicknamed Easy Ed, Macauley was a star player for the Celtics in the early 50s. A 20-point scorer, Ed was known for making the game look so smooth and easy. He could shot, make plays, and carry his own on defense. Overall, Macaulay finished his career with 7 All-Star Selections, 4 All-NBA Selections, 1 NBA Championship, and an All-Star MVP award.

#29 Bill Walton

Hall of Famer Bill Walton had a storied career in the NBA. A hippy by heart, his fun-loving personality and charisma inspired Boston Celtics fans and brought new-found energy off the court in the Celtics locker room. While his career was shortened with a foot injury, Bill Walton was a special presence in Celtic’s history.

#30 Paul Silas

Three-time NBA champion Paul Silas was a major contributor in two of the Celtics titles in the mid-70s. A power forward, Silas started alongside center Dave Cowens and created a terrifying frontcourt duo. Along with Jo Jo White and John Havlicek, the Celtics dominated the early post, Bill Russell’s 70s era.

#31 Tiny Archibald

Six-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA honors, Archibald had an extraordinary career. While his career with the Celtics was not as impressive, he contributed as the quintessential pass-first point guard. Coming off a torn Achilles and being over 30, Tiny wasn’t expected to do much with the Celtics. However, his steady play contributed to a title on one of the most stacked Celtics teams in history.

#32 Bailey Howell

Bailey Howell was a key member of the Bill Russell-led Celtics dominance. As a power forward, Howell was a great complement to Russell’s interior dominance as Howell was a gifted, more agile scorer. Two pair’s back to back championships won’t be forgotten in Celtics history.

#33 Don Chaney

Don Chaney was a pillar for the Celtics organization in the 70s. An athletically gifted shooting at 6’5’’ 215 pounds, Chaney was an elite lockdown defender. Known as the Oscar Robertson stopper in 1974 finals, Chaney’s defense was a primary reason the Celtics won the title. Chaney’s steady shooting also contributed to the Celtics success and 2 titles with the team.

#34 Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas was a legend with the Boston Celtics. Part of a trade, Thomas stepped in and immediately became the leader the Celtics young core needed. He warmed fans’ hearts when they found out that his sister had died right before the playoffs. Inspired by the death, Thomas had one of the most impressive post-season runs and was a game away from and dethroning King James in the Eastern Conference Finals.

#35 Dee Brown

Dee Brown was a point guard during the 90s-era Celtics. As a backup and occasional starter, Dee Brown exceeded his role with seasons above 10 points per game and assists 5 per game. He was a fan favorite for his crisp, clean game. He didn’t turn the ball over much instead making highlight passes to his teammates.

#36 Larry Siegfried

Larry Siegfried was one of the most popular point guards in Boston Celtics history. Siegfried contributed as a starting guard for the early 60s Celtics, Siegfried was known for his crisp assists to Bill Russell down low. Siegfried and Bill Russell established a great point guard center duo that lasted for years and resulted in many championships.

#37 Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is a legend with the Lakers, Magic, and Heat, but had to make this list because he did play one season with the Celtics. Shaq’s fun-loving veteran presence helped to keep the aging core of Pierce, Allen, and Garnett in title contention for another season while allowing Shaq to have one last playoff run. Even though he only played a small role in Celtic’s history, the Diesel has to make this list for the legend he is.

#38 Kevin Gamble

Kevin Gamble was a quality small-forward for the Boston Celtics. Tasked with providing a scoring boost off the bench during the end of Bird’s career. Gamble succeeded averaging roughly 13 points during his career on an efficient 50% from the field. Gamble’s success with the Celtics was a reason they didn’t free-fall after the departure of Larry Bird.

#39 Tony Battie

A career backup center Tony Battie played within his role. For the Celtics, he was tasked with coming into games to secure rebounds and play strong interior defense. Battie showed up for the task. He dominated other backup big men and was a crucial starter to an often injury-plagued early 2000s Celtics.

#40 Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins was a fan favorite for the Celtics given his tenacious interior presence. Perkins was undersized and didn’t have any eye-opening stats. However, he brought a certain level of grit and nastiness to the 08’ Celtics. He gave hard, tone-setting fouls and would come into just to send a message to the opposing team.

#41 Ed Pinckney

Teammate of Dana Barros, Ed Pickney spent four years with the Celtics, contributing as a valuable backup and occasional starter. While not a huge rebounder or defensive presence, Pinckney shined on offense. In 14 seasons, he only had two seasons where he failed to shot 50% from the field. He was a valuable piece to the post-Larry Bird Celtics.

#42 Dana Barros

Playing under the Chris Ford coached Celtics, Barros was a veteran role player for the team. Contributing to quality three-point shooting, Barros was an essential piece to the team’s playoff appearances. Also, Barros was credited with being a primary mentor to the likes of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce. Barros contributed deeply to the future of this team and for that, he had to make the list.

#43 Bob Donham

Bob Donham was one of the early-50s fan favorites. While only playing four NBA seasons due to military service Donham shined in his role as point for the Celtics. He encapsulated fans with his array of perfect passes and exciting pace of play. As one of the OG Celtics fan favorites, Donham had to make this list.

#44 Chris Ford

Chris Ford is a Celtics legend given his championship with the team in 81’ as well as the fact that he recorded the first-ever three-point shot in NBA history. Ford proved to be a cerebral presence on the team, lauded for his high basketball IQ and leadership. This translated to a five-year coaching stint with the team in the early 90s.

#45 Gerald Henderson

Combo guard Gerald Henderson began his long career with the Larry Bird led Celtics. While he didn’t start much throughout his career, Henderson is revered by Celtics fans for coming up with big plays throughout the playoffs. In game 2 of the 1984 NBA finals against the Lakers, he made an impressive game-winning steal and layup. These kinds of iconic moments were apart of Henderson’s heralded career.

#46 Walter McCarthy

Walter McCarthy was a valuable “three and d” player during his time with the Celtics. Tasked with coming off the bench for a three-point spark or guard the opposing team’s best player, McCarthy rose to the occasion every time. Fans appreciated his gutsy play, attitude on the court, and hustle.

#47 Tony Allen

Tony Allen is an all-time great perimeter defensive player. While he gave his teams nothing on the offensive side of the ball, Allen found playing time by shutting down the opposing team’s best player. Time after time Allen came up with clutch defensive blocks, steals, or contests that resulted in stalled possessions. His role was crucial in the Celtics 08’ title.

#48 Glen Davis

Glen “Big Baby” Davis was a college phenom for the LSU Tigers, leading the team to a final four appearance. While his NBA career was not as impressive, he played an integral role in the Celtic’s 08’ championship. As a backup enter, Davis provided valuable inside scoring to a team that struggled whenever Kevin Garnett sat.

#49 Al Horford

Al Horford is that calm presence that just keeps coming. A quiet reserved individual on the court, Horford was revered for his leadership between the scenes. Teammates rave about his speeches used to ignite his team before crucial moments. While undersized for a big, he never opposed the challenge of guarding some of the league’s tallest players. His heart and leadership almost pushed the underdog Celtics past the LeBron-led Cavs into the finals.

#50 Paul Westphal

Paul Westphal began his illustrious career that included 5 all-star appearances and 4 All-NBA honors with the Celtics. While not receiving much playing time on this stacked team, Westphal flashed, making key plays off the bench and bringing a level of scrappiness to his game. He only played three seasons with the Celtics which is why he is lower on this list.

Drew is one of the NBA Lead Writers at Lineups.com, specializing in betting content such as game predictions and player props. With a deep knowledge of players and prospects, Drew has an extensive edge in covering everything NBA.

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