The Celtics have already ruled Kyrie Irving out for tonight and Jaylen Brown hasn’t completed the concussion protocol yet, so the Celtics will face the OKC Thunder very shorthanded once again.
That means Jayson Tatum is going to be asked to step up again. He did so in the loss to New Orleans, providing the lone bright spot on a rough night. Afterwards, I spot to Tatum and Brad Stevens about his performance, and on Boston.com, I wrote about how these games are teasers that make us want more from Tatum sooner rather than later.
The kid can score. So why doesn’t he score more, especially now that the Celtics need someone to help carry a depleted offense?
A friend and I had a conversation about this and he said Tatum has a little Kelly Olynyk in him, which made me cringe a little. Olynyk’s time in Boston was defined by a frustrating lack of aggression punctuated by up-fakes when he was wide open. Tatum is certainly more talented and has a much higher ceiling than Olynyk, but a lack of aggressiveness could keep that ceiling out of reach.
It’s too early to know if Tatum’s on-court reticence is a career-long trait or just a case of a rookie deferring to established veterans as he tries to earn his keep. From the latter perspective, he seems like a respectful rookie letting the leaders of the pride eat first as he waits to make the most of the remaining scraps. Eventually Tatum will become a more willing shooter and scorer as he establishes himself in the NBA.
I don’t think the Olynyk comparison will be true for much longer. I do believe he’s deferred to vets more than anything. Plus, his role on this team is not the same as other high-profile rookies.
I get into that with quotes from Brad Stevens on Boston.com. Please go check it out.