Brad Stevens: Why Tatum and Brown’s Next Steps are Hardest to Make

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown

Getty Celtics star duo, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown

Things haven’t been easy for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to begin the season. Both have struggled for consistency, and their team has only two wins in their first seven games.

Tatum is currently leading the league in field-goal attempts, taking an astonishing 30 per game but only converting 31.3% of them per NBA Stats.  To make matters worse, when looking at players averaging 20 or more field goals, Tatum sits dead last in his conversion rate.

Brown’s struggles haven’t been as prominent, but following the Boston Celtics’ first loss to the Washington Wizards on October 28th, head coach Ime Udoka called Brown’s wavering effort levels “mind-boggling.”

Speaking to Michael Holley during an exclusive interview, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens discussed the star pairing’s struggles and why taking that “next step” is the most challenging improvement of all.

“When you’re talking about our two young guys in Jaylen and Jayson, their next steps are hard. Because of where they are right now. They’re already up a ton of steps. An All-Star and 2 x All-Star for Jayson, so those next steps, they take a lot,” Stevens explained when discussing the growing pains of the Celtics young duo to begin the season.

Despite the current media attention surrounding the Celtics’ two All-Star wings, they’re still averaging 26.7 points per game (Brown) and 25.7 points per game (Tatum). Still, it’s developing a consistency that Stevens believes will take them to the next level.

“It’s hard to say to be even more consistent because when you look at it, statistically, they’re pretty darn consistent. Everybody has an off-night here or there, but when you are the guys, every night is a greater burden with greater responsibility,” Stevens said. “But those guys have big broad shoulders, and they work.”

Teams Attack Tatum and Brown Down the Stretch

Marcus Smart believes the team’s troubles aren’t from a lack of talent but due to their predictable offense down the stretch. “Every team is programmed and studied to stop Jayson and Jaylen. I think everybody’s scouting report is to make those guys try to pass the ball.” Smart told the media following the Celtics’ fourth-quarter collapse against the Chicago Bulls.

According to Cleaning The Glass, Tatum has a 32.4% usage rate, which places him in the 100th percentile among wings, while Brown isn’t far behind with a 26.9% usage rate. The Celtics offense is undoubtedly geared towards getting the duo the ball and possibly leading to some of the team’s growing pains down the stretch.


Smart Has Spoken To Tatum and Brown Following His Comments

Smart’s comments caused quite a stir on social media, but according to Stevens’ the reaction in house has been a professional one.

“The most important thing about what he said was that he talked to those guys about it, and I saw that today. It’s funny because when you’re in it and see him and Jayson sitting down and eating breakfast together today and talking about finding a solution for our team. Those guys want to win,” Stevens explained to Michael Holley.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Brad Stevens talks with Michael Holley on the Celtics Struggles This SeasonIn an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Boston's Michael Holley, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens talks about the tough start to the season for his 2-5 Celtics. Stevens talks about how Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could react to Marcus Smart's comments following the Bulls loss, what he is saying to head coach Ime…2021-11-02T23:10:04Z

While Smart’s comments were likely justified, making them after a game where he registered zero assists raised some eyebrows among fans. MassLive’s Brian Robb wrote about why Smart being the one speak was probably the wrong idea: “Amid years of questionable shot selection from Smart, never once have Tatum and Brown publicly taken issue with their teammate.”

The Celtics will face the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, November 3rd, as they look to get back into the win column after losing their last three games in a row. And maybe we will see if Smart’s comments force a change in how Tatum and Brown’s operate down the stretch and if a tough-love approach is what they need to take that next step which Stevens discussed.

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