Joe Mazzulla supports Derrick White’s All-Star candidacy amid breakout season

"His teammates are empowering him, he's playing with a lot of confidence."

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White (9) drives past Sacramento Kings guard Kevin Huerter during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023.
Derrick White has played a key role in Boston's 21-6 start this season. (AP Photo/Randall Benton)

The 2023-24 Celtics have no shortage of star power on their roster.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have established themselves as two of the premier players in the NBA, with the duo both earning All-NBA honors in 2022-23.

Jrue Holiday earned his second All-Star nod last season. Kristaps Porzingis was an All-Star in 2018, with the 7-foot-2 forward/center serving as a difference-maker on both ends of the court in his first season with Boston.

But could the fifth player in Boston’s starting rotation earn All-Star recognition this season?

After the Celtics easily bested the Kings, 144-119, on Wednesday night, Joe Mazzulla vouched for Derrick White and his rising stock as one of the most of impactful guards in the league.


“He’s an All-Star,” Mazzulla said, per video provided by CLNS Media. “(He’s playing with) freedom, confidence, and empowerment from his teammates. A lot of the times when we want to settle the team down and we want to get to really good execution, we go to Derrick White pick and rolls.

“His teammates are empowering him, he’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Mazzulla added. “And it’s one of the reasons why we feel so comfortable with him at the point, is because of what he can do.”

White may not be the flashiest player on the court most nights, especially on a team with superstars commanding the spotlight like Tatum. But the 29-year-old guard’s well-rounded skillset has played an instrumental role in Boston’s 21-6 record.

Since getting snubbed from ESPN’s Top 100 rankings before the start of the 2023-24 season, White has put together the best season of his career. 

After taking the reins of Boston’s starting point-guard position following the offseason trade of Marcus Smart, White is averaging 16.5 points, 5.1 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks per game through his first 24 appearances this year.

A 2022-23 All-Defensive selection, White has made strides as a sharpshooting threat for Boston this season.


He’s already tied his career-high for points in a single game (30) twice this month, and added 28 points (including a 6-of-9 showing from the 3-point line) in the Celtics’ road win in Sacramento on Wednesday.

Of course, White’s path to an All-Star nomination will be an uphill climb. Beyond the fact that his baseline stats may not leap off the page, he’ll also have to leapfrog other guards in the East such as Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young, Jalen Brunson, and Tyrese Haliburton.

Speaking postgame on Wednesday, White downplayed his own individual performance in Boston’s impressive win.

“I mean he’s my coach, that’s what he’s supposed to say, right?” White said of Mazzulla’s comments, as noted by MassLive’s Souichi Terada. “I’m just trying to win games. That’s what I’m focusing on right now. Just do whatever I can to help us win.”