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.
Jayson Tatum must be living the dream right now. His spectacular performance against the Clippers on national TV was timely proof that he’s worthy of his first All-Star Game. With Tatum joining Kemba Walker in Chicago, the 38-16 Celtics are represented by two of the brightest stars of the entire weekend.
Jayson Tatum | F-G | Boston Celtics
- Ranks fifth in cumulative plus-minus, with the Celtics having outscored their opponents by 401 points with him on the floor.
- Has shot 38.7% on pull-up 3-pointers, the second-best mark among 11 players who have attempted at least 200.
- Has seen an increase in effective field goal percentage with each quarter, from 47.9% in the first to 60.7% in the fourth.
- Ranks third in total defensive win shares (8.0).
- Has passed just 23.6% of the time on drives, the fourth-lowest rate among 111 players who have averaged at least five drives per game.
Kemba Walker | G | Boston Celtics
- Registering career-high marks in both effective field goal percentage (53.0%) and true shooting percentage (57.9%).
- Has scored 1.11 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the second-best mark among 50 players who have averaged at least five ball-handler possessions per game.
- Has taken more than half of his shots from 3-point range for the first time in his career. Has seen an increase in his ratio of 3-point attempts to mid-range attempts in each of the last six seasons, from 0.8 in 2013-14 to 4.2 this season.
- The Celtics have allowed 8 more points per 100 possessions with Walker on the floor (108.5) than they have with him off the floor (98.7). That’s the sixth-worst on-off DefRtg differential among 313 players who have played at least 500 minutes with a single team.
- Ranks fifth with 37 charges drawn per game.
Both players got involved with league activities on Friday.
For Kemba, his fourth ASG selection is his most satisfying one yet.
So getting the All-Star start now means something new … But this time around, Walker wasn’t simply being recognized for gaudy stats or, according to him, the location of the game. This was Walker being honored, for the first time in his career, stepping back as a volume scorer so he could step forward as the leader of a contender.
“Obviously, last year was my first (All-Star) start,” Walker says. “I mean, the game was in Charlotte. I think that’s probably why I really got the start. I was averaging about 26 and a half (points per game) at the time. This year, like 21, something like that or whatever. But now I’m more so being recognized for being on a winning team, not more so recognized for my stats, you know?”
The Celtics don’t hit the court again until Friday, February 21, so if you need to satisfy your need for the green, watch All-Star Saturday night, when Tatum will defend the title he won last year in the Skills Challenge. That will be the first event of the night, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
The actual All-Star Game is Sunday, again at 8 p.m. Eastern, TNT. Perhaps the new format this year will give the players a reason to take the game seriously, and make it watchable again.
On Page 2: More good news for KG
Kevin Garnett earned two of the greatest honors in basketball in a span of just 20 hours.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday afternoon that Garnett, a 2008 champion with the Boston Celtics and a 15-time All-Star, has been chosen as a finalist for the 2020 Hall of Fame class. It is a foregone conclusion that he will be enshrined into the Hall this September.
The Hall of Fame’s announcement came the day after the Celtics announced that they will retire Garnett’s No. 5 jersey next season.
There might be some (misguided) arguments against retiring No. 5, but there’s no dispute whatsoever about the Hall of Fame: KG belongs. It’s a complete no-brainer. Garnett was one of the top power forwards of all time.
According to the Hall of Fame’s announcement, a finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election. If KG doesn’t get all 24, somebody ought to lose their voting privileges.
And, finally… They picked the wrong Mike
With all due respect to Mike Breen and his outstanding career, it’s baffling that this honor has not yet been awarded to Mike Gorman. Mike and Tommy Heinsohn have called Celtics games together for 39 straight years — longer than any other announcing duo in NBA history, and probably in any sport. It doesn’t get more legendary than that.
Breen is the Knicks TV announcer, but he also has the national profile that may have given him an edge this year. However, many past Gowdy Award recipients have been local voices just like the well-liked, widely respected Gorman. He has certainly earned the recognition. What is the Hall waiting for?
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