Friday, June 23, 2017

Be Happy About Tatum

I wanted the Celtics to make a trade last night for a player, such as Kristaps Porzingis, that could lift them into being a legitimate championship contender.  Making that trade would have almost certainly cost them the #3 pick in last night's draft and I was okay with that.  Acquiring these picks from the Brooklyn Nets on draft night in 2013 was supposed to be the way that Danny Ainge would rebuild the Celtics and it didn't matter if they would be using them to draft players or to trade for players as long as they found the right guys to bring titles to Boston.

Ainge decided last night to keep the pick and the player he took at #3, 19-year-old forward Jayson Tatum from Duke, certainly projects to be a player capable of contributing to a championship team.

Ainge has used his last two lottery picks, in 2014 and 2016, to add physical wing players to the Celtics rotation.  Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown are both intense defenders who use their athleticism and physical play to contribute in Brad Stevens system.  Smart, taken at #6 in 2014, has been slow to develop into a consistent scorer but does show flashes of being able to be an offensive threat while Brown, taken #3 in 2016, made major strides as a rookie as a scorer but still has a ways to go to become a player who can routinely drop 20 points per game in the NBA.

Last night, Ainge added another wing player but this time he went for a polished scorer.  Watch the video clip that breaks down Tatum's versatile offensive game and you'll understand why Ainge said that he would have taken him at #1 had he not traded the pick.

The first thing you will notice is the form on his jump shot.  While he needs to become a more consistent three-point shooter, Tatum's shot is smooth and with his size (6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan), he'll be able to get it off against NBA defenders.

Tatum is also adept at scoring from a variety of places and in different situations.  He can score from the perimeter, the low post, and from mid-range.  He can score from isolation sets, running the pick and roll, setting the screen in the pick and roll, and in transition.  He can catch and shoot, attack off the dribble, and seems comfortable going to his right and left hand.  Tatum is also a better athlete than he's been given credit for which will not only help his offense but will also make a big difference on defense.  He is definitely not a "one trick pony" and this versatility should allow him to contribute from day one with the Celtics, who have a need for scoring to complement Isaiah Thomas.

The Celtics roster situation is still very fluid and the ability to make a trade - one that could include Tatum - is still a real possibility.  Adding a maximum contract free agent in July such as Gordon Hayward - who would join Smart, Brown, Tatum, and Jae Crowder on the wing - is also very much a possibility.  This makes it hard to really project Tatum's role as a rookie but with such a polished offensive game and the athleticism to mold him into a NBA caliber defender, it's hard not to see him contributing significantly to the Celtics as a rookie.

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