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Potential Legacies For The NBA Finals' Key Players

The Celtics took a 2-0 series lead over the Mavericks in the NBA finals as the series heads to Dallas for a pivotal game 3. Depending on how the rest of this series plays out, there will be plenty of discussion surrounding the careers and legacies of this series' biggest players.

Jayson Tatum

Tatum has been one of the league's best since he made his debut in 2017, including two finals appearances and four conference finals. Tatum is set up for a massive contract this offseason, deservedly, but a glooming shadow has surrounded him for years now and that is not being able to win a finals. Debates around the top five players in the league tend to exclude Tatum but with a championship under his belt and recency bias almost always sways discussions one way, Tatum should find himself in the top five on many boards.

Celtics Win: Top 5 player in the league and a supermax contract.

Mavericks Win: Can't win the big one and will hover around the top 10 list. (Still gets a supermax.)

Luka Doncic

Luka's 2024 playoff run has been one of the greatest from a single player in the history of the NBA. I don't believe many would knock Luka if he did not come away victorious at the end of this series due to the lack of star power that the Mavs have compared to the Celtics. Throughout the first two games in this series, Luka has been the only relevant player for Dallas and was unstoppable throughout the Western Conference playoffs. A win would be massive for his legacy, but I believe he is already in the conversation as a top-three player in the league right now and even a loss would not change that.

Mavericks Win: Close race with Jokic for NBA's best player.

Celtics Win: Top 3 player in the game. Needs more help around him.

Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown has been great for Boston throughout these playoffs, with his game maturing as he isn't as inconsistent as in previous playoff runs. Brown doesn't take as much heat as Tatum does when the Celtics aren't playing well due to him being the number two option for them, but becoming the highest-paid player in NBA history after he signed his new contract, he will naturally be under fire if Boston isn't able to finish this series. I believe a win does a whole lot more for Brown's legacy than a loss does.

Celtics Win: Brown cements himself as a Boston legend and improves his resume for the Hall of Fame.

Mavericks Win: People will question if Brown can be a competent number two on a championship-winning team.

Kyrie Irving

This is interesting because Kyrie already has a ring and has been one of the league's premier offensive players over the past decade but with all of the controversy that has followed him in the past couple of years and a potential flameout in the finals, the narrative around Kyrie could change drastically. The icing on top of this is that Kyrie is going up against his former team the Celtics, a relationship that didn't end well and Boston fans are letting him know that.

Mavericks Win: Kyrie officially enters the all-time guard's debate.

Celtics Win: "What could have been" debates begin surrounding his career.

Kristaps Porzingis

After years of injuries and being a part of struggling teams Porzingis finally has a chance to win a championship as a Celtic. In his first year with Boston, Porzingis has gracefully embraced a new sort of role as a number three option instead of his previous roles as a number one and two with New York, Dallas, and Washington. If Porzingis can finish this series and play well it would be more important for his career than winning or losing the series.

Celtics Win: Porzingis becomes regarded as one of the top big men in the league.

Mavericks Win: Can't escape the injury bug.

Jrue Holiday

The Celtics made arguably the best move of the offseason acquiring Holiday in a trade with the Trailblazers. Jrue is the only Celtic who has won a championship and it looks like he might be on his way toward a second as he does not seem to have lost a step compared to where he was in 2021 when he helped the Bucks bring home a title. A win this year plus another couple of solid seasons (maybe even another ring) could place him in the Hall of Fame.

Celtics Win: Jrue Holiday the Hall of Famer?

Mavericks Win: Not a Hall of Famer.

The Celtics have the advantage so far but you can never count out Luka, especially with the series heading back to Dallas.

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