Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
For Pierce, he doesn’t see Tatum being as good as he was scoring the ball when the 10-time All-Star came into league in 1998.
“He looks like an older version of me, when I started doing the step-back and stuff,” Pierce said in an exclusive interview with CSN. “When I’m watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like sixth, seventh, eighth year. He sees the defense. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He understands his position, footwork, his step-back (jumper) is there. His offensive repertoire seems complete. The sky is the limit for that kid.”
Pierce added, “that’s the biggest thing, the mentality, having a competitive spirit because there’s so much talent, and it’s about how hard you work and the mentality you bring every single night.”
And while it’s still early, Pierce sees some of those traits in Tatum.
Jayson Tatum has to be walking on air after hearing those comments. If you hope to become next great Celtic, an endorsement from The Truth would build plenty of confidence. And if Pierce is exaggerating for effect, what’s wrong with that?
These comments from Pierce also highlight why I’ve long felt the Celtics should hire him as the franchise’s mentor/ambassador, similar to what the Red Sox just did with David Ortiz. Pierce has the high profile and credibility to teach and advise today’s younger players, while also being a persuasive influence to attract free agents during the recruiting period.
And if he then helps Tatum become Pierce 2.0 … I’ll need a cold shower.
Related: MassLive – Paul Pierce: Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum ‘like a mature version of my game’
On Page 2: Where Celtics ranked in the baffling Top 100 lists
|ESPN Top 100||Sports Illustrated Top 100|
|Method: We asked, “Which player will be better in 2017-18?” To decide, voters had to consider both the quality and the quantity of each player’s contributions to his team’s ability to win games.||Method: Given the wide variety of candidates involved and the deep analytical resources available, no single, definitive criterion was used to form this list. Instead, rankings were assigned based on a fluid combination of subjective assessment and objective data. This list is an attempt to evaluate each player in a vacuum, independent of their current team context as much as possible. A player’s prospects beyond the 2017-18 season did not play a part in the ranking process.|
|65. Marcus Smart (last year: 114)||—. Marcus Smart (not ranked)|
|40. Al Horford (22)||30. Al Horford|
|25. Kyrie Irving (15)||21. Kyrie Irving|
|20. Gordon Hayward (34)||16. Gordon Hayward|
ESPN stated each player’s ranking from last year; Sports Illustrated did not.
Top 100 rankings are not my favorite thing. Sure, the writers who compile them put in a lot of work to research each player, but when you see language like “rankings were assigned based on a fluid combination of subjective assessment and objective data,” that says to me there was a lot of guesswork involved.
On top of that, these lists are mostly just content fillers to keep readers clicking during the slow news period of off-season.
But with all that said, we’re giving attention to two lists, both revealed this week, because it’s tough to read them without raising some questions and having opinions.
- Kudos to ESPN for placing Smart at no. 65. Three years into his career, Smart hasn’t yet found his shot (and perhaps never will), but those of us who watch him regularly know his impact is much, much more than simply how many points he averages.
- Boos to SI for omitting Smart entirely. He’s really not better than the likes of Elfrid Payton (96), Julius Randle (94), or Dennis Schroder (76)? C’mon now.
- His spot at 30 on the SI list seems fair.
- But falling from 22 all the way to 40 on the ESPN list, without explanation, makes no sense. Meanwhile, Myles Turner is at 36 on ESPN. Let’s acknowledge that Turner is a rising star, but is he better than Horford right now? Will he provide a bigger contribution to Indiana’s success this season than Horford will for Boston? Highly doubtful. (By the way, Turner is no. 68 on the SI list, so…wtf?)
- Like Horford, Irving plummeted from 15 to 25 without ESPN explaining why. Perhaps they think Kyrie won’t produce as well as he did when he had the best in the world (LeBron, duh) occupying the defense, but that’s a head-scratcher nonetheless.
- Before the trade, the conventional wisdom was that Kyrie is at least one of the five top point guards in the league. So why then are Conley, Lowry and Lillard all ahead of him on both lists? Lowry, who habitually fades in the postseason? Conley, never an All-Star? Lillard, whose career stats per 100 possessions are virtually identical to Irving’s? Also puzzling.
- No complaints here. Both rankings are close together and seem fair.
- Markieff Morris landed at 79 on both lists, but although he and his twin brother do everything together, Marcus Morris didn’t make either cut. That’s even though their stats last season were similar.
- ESPN included rookies, which is nonsense because how do you rank someone who hasn’t played? They honored Fultz, Simmons, Smith Jr., and Ball (but not Tatum). Somehow Lonzo came in at 63, just ahead of Carmelo Anthony (64) and Smart. Ludicrous. That’s the same type of L.A. ass-kissing that places the Lakers on national TV 30-plus times even when they’re bottom-feeders.
- Former Celtics on both lists are Bradley, Crowder and Thomas. IT was ranked at 33 and 40 because they held his injury status against him. (Insert eye-roll emoji.) No matter what he does, the Little Guy gets disrespected (and yes, I still defend him even though he’s on the Cavs, because he’s earned it).
Related: NBA – As summer winds down, players rankled, getting motivation from rankings | SB Nation – Ranking NBA players is foolish and necessary | MassLive – Sports Illustrated’s Top-100 NBA player rankings: Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford represent Boston Celtics
And, finally: Highlights from China
It was just a few days ago that we learned Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were making nice at an exhibition game in China. Then The Truth and Ray went out and had fun on the court. Enjoy.
The Rest of the Links: