Jayson Tatum is widely perceived as one of the league’s brightest young talents. With two All-Star selections under his belt and currently averaging 25-plus points per game, the Boston Celtics centerpiece is already dominating oppositions on a nightly basis.
However, former NBA veteran Gilbert Arenas believes that Tatum has only the scratched surface of his true potential. In fact, the former Wizards star went as far as to voice his belief that Tatum will dominate the game in a similar fashion to all-time legend, Kobe Bryant.
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Arenas Envisions Kobe-Like Dominance From Tatum
During a recent Player’s Breakdown, Arenas — who made it a point to remind everyone that Tatum dons the No. 0 because of himself — delved deep into the forward’s on-court growth, highlighting Tatum’s elite intangibles and broad skillset. Attributes which he believes will place Tatum on a Kobe-level in no time.
Why I wear 0!! https://t.co/G3Vb5yt7Ib
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) October 31, 2018
“You can see that he’s growing with each mistake, each game,” Arenas said of Tatum. “That’s what’s more important, from his rookie season to now, this year — turnover, next year — perfect play. Two years, three years from now you’re going to see a player who’s dominating this game on a Kobe level. Because he possesses you know, all those intangibles that’s going to make him compared to that guy (Kobe).”
“Kobe was great at everything. Mid-range. getting to a spot. And that’s what Tatum’s finding out he’s great at too,” Arenas noted. “Getting to his spot no matter what the defense is giving you you’re going to your destination and when you get there you rise up and you hit the shot.”
Kobe Played a Pivotal Role in Tatum’s Leap into NBA Stardom
Much like the majority of athletes who decided to pick up a basketball, the late-great Kobe Bryant had a resounding effect on Tatum’s career. Growing up idolizing Bryant as a child in St. Louis, Missouri, Tatum’s growth from prep star to NBA up-and-comer opened up the door for the Celtics star’s idol to turn mentor.
In May of 2018, Tatum was the subject of Bryant’s ESPN+ show Detail, where the five-time NBA champion analyzed the youngster’s game. A rookie at the time, Tatum soaked up all he could from Kobe’s breakdown.
“That was really cool for me. Growing up, [Bryant] was my favorite player,” Tatum said. “That was really a special moment for me… I’ve probably watched [the video] like 25 times already. It’s very helpful information that I can take with me.”
From there the bond between the two only blossomed. Tatum touched on the subject as a guest on J.J. Redick’s podcast The Old Man & the Three in August of last year, sharing a text exchange he had with Bryant after the Detail video premiered.
“He said, ‘Young fella, happy for your success. Stay focused. Keep going. If you’re in L.A. this summer and you want to work out, just let me know,'” Tatum recalled. “I was like, I can’t believe it.”
Clearly, Tatum took Bryant up on his offer, as the star forward shared images of offseason workouts alongside Kobe in July of 2018, captioning the post “how much does it mean to you.”
When Bryant passed away in January of 2020, the NBA was left grieving, as was the rest of the world. Tatum was no different, sharing a heartfelt message to his long-time idol.
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