You’d be hard-pressed to find a more talented and promising duo in the NBA than the Boston Celtics‘ All-Star tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, despite singularly proving to be amongst the very best the NBA has to offer, the jury remains out on the two’s compatibility playing alongside one another.
With the C’s lingering around a .500-record since the 2020-21 season, many in league circles have questioned whether Brad Stevens and company would be best served to move off of one of the young stars — namely Brown, who has been the subject of numerous trade speculation over the recent years. However, franchise legend Paul Pierce isn’t buying into that train of thought.
Pierce: Cs Need to Build Around Tatum & Brown, Not Separate Them
The NBA Hall of Famer joined Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover NBA Show with Chris Mannix and Howard Beck” to do his best to debunk the theory that separating two of the NBA’s most prolific 25-and-under talents would prove beneficial for the Celtics.
“I never believed that (it’s right to separate two star players),” said Pierce (h/t Conor Roche of Boston.com). “I truly believe it’s about putting the right pieces around your great players. They’ve proven they can be All-Stars in this league. In order to win in this league you have to have star talent around the perimeter. That’s what the Celtics have and that’s something you need to build around it.”
Brown has missed each of the Celtics’ last eight games after exiting a November 4th victory over the Miami Heat early with a hamstring injury. Yet, despite his absence, the Cal product still leads Boston in scoring with a career-high 25.6 points per game average and looks to be taking yet another step in his superstar trajectory. As for Tatum, Boston’s cornerstone has bounced back from some early shooting woes to average 34.6 points on 51.5% shooting from the field over his last three outings.
“My theory proves right because when you look at all the top players and all the Finals MVPs year in and year out, who are you looking at? Top-tier perimeter guys like Kawhi Leonard, the Kobe Bryants, the Kevin Durants, the LeBron James’, these are the guys that lead their teams to championships. You need those types of players,” Pierce said. “The Celtics have to find a way to build around those guys so they can reach that next level.”
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Pierce Talks Cs Losing Kemba Walker
In terms of building around the likes of Tatum and Brown, the Celtics underwent a massive shift this offseason after taking the form of a somewhat stagnant organization in recent years. Stevens traded in his clipboard for an exec role. First-time head coach Ime Udoka was hired to replace him on the sidelines and the roster endured quite the shake-up. One of the most notable roster moves made was the decision to unload point guard Kemba Walker in a June trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“They lost a veteran point guard in Kemba Walker, I think that was a huge loss,” Pierce proclaimed. “I think if he had another year to get seasoned with them, they would have been better.”
Walker has been far from his former All-Star self in his new digs with the Knicks, averaging career lows in points (11.7) and assists (3.0). In fact, he’s now scored under double-digit points in seven of his last nine games. With that said, transitioning from a Walker-led backcourt to a Marcus Smart-led backcourt wasn’t exactly smooth out the gates. However, he’s begun to settle in nicely, especially when paired with free-agent steal Dennis Schroder.