Hall of Fame Celtic Sounds Off on Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

If the Boston Celtics want to return to the NBA Finals in 2023, they’re going to need a significant contribution from Jayson Tatum.

The All-NBA wing is undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the NBA, but at times, he can seem a little passive on the court – and that can lead to some poor shooting nights from the field.

However, if Tatum can adopt a more aggressive attitude on a nightly basis, then there’s no reason to believe that he won’t scale new heights and bring the Celtics along for the ride – especially when you factor in Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Robert Williams as the other difference makers on the team.

According to former Dino Radja, a former Celtics big man who is now enshrined in the NBA Hall of Fame, Tatum has all the skills necessary to become an offensive assassin like his idol Kobe Bryant – but he needs to commit to putting the work in if he wants to reach that ceiling.

“He’s the type of guy who has Kobe Bryant potential. How much we see him develop, I think depends on him, but you know, I think the sky is the limit,” Radja said on a recent episode of The Celtics Collective podcast. 

Radja has a point – Tatum has all the skills in the world, but needs to develop more of a ‘Mamba Mentality’ if he wants to take his game to an MVP level in the near future.


Tatum Focusing on Leadership

While developing an aggressive mindset on the basketball court is an important part of Tatum’s evolution, it appears that he’s been focusing on another aspect of his game this summer: leadership.

Not one to be overly vocal or assertive on the court, Tatum is skilled enough to lead by example, and given his status as one of the best players in the NBA, the Celtics will be looking to his leadership in the upcoming season.


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“I feel like I’m very vocal, I might not be the loudest guy, especially in front of the camera. But to the guys in the locker room, when we’re in practice, on the plane, or on the court, my presence is felt. We all put a lot into this game, and we all have the right to give input to each other. That’s all I try to do when I see something,” Tatum said when discussing his ability to lead a team on September 29.

If Tatum can show some assertiveness in his play, nobody will be expecting him to become a more animated figure on the court, but either way, his next step appears to be more mental than physical.


Still Haunted by Finals Loss

According to an October 12 report by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Tatum is still haunted by the Celtics’ NBA Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors and is using that feeling as motivation for the upcoming season.

“Didn’t feel like talking to anybody. Didn’t feel like being bothered. It’s hard to explain if you have never been in that situation. But losing a championship was f—ing miserable…It’s hard to call it a good year. When you f—ing lose a championship,” Mannix wrote.

With the new season set to begin on October 18, when Boston plays their opening game against the Philadelphia 76ers, it will be interesting to see how Tatum approaches that game, and whether he continues his usual slow start to the season or comes out of the gates hot.

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