Celtics

Paul Pierce on Jayson Tatum: 'He looks like an older version of me'

Paul Pierce on Jayson Tatum: 'He looks like an older version of me'

WALTHAM, Mass. – From the time the Boston Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the comparisons to Paul Pierce’s game offensively have been steady.
 
For Pierce, he doesn’t see Tatum being as good as he was scoring the ball when the 10-time All-Star came into league in 1998.
 
He’s better.
 
“He looks like an older version of me, when I started doing the step-back and stuff,” Pierce said in an exclusive interview with CSN. “When I’m watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like sixth, seventh, eighth year. He sees the defense. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He understands his position, footwork, his step-back (jumper) is there. His offensive repertoire seems complete. The sky is the limit for that kid.”

LISTEN TO THE CELTICS TALK PODCAST WITH PAUL PIERCE


 
But having spent nearly two decades in the NBA, Pierce has seen his share of young talented players come and go, many with similar if not more potential in terms of talent as Tatum.
 
“The thing I see, what makes the guy special, there’s a lot of talent in the league. There’s no question about it,” Pierce said. “Your mentality, your drive, how great you want to be, that’s what separates the good from the great ones. You look at guys from the past, like Kobe (Bryant’s) determination, his competitive spirit. You see guys that were just as talented, they didn’t have the same competitive spirit so they could not reach the levels of other greats.
 
Pierce added, “that’s the biggest thing, the mentality, having a competitive spirit because there’s so much talent, and it’s about how hard you work and the mentality you bring every single night.”
 
And while it’s still early, Pierce sees some of those traits in Tatum.
 
The praise for Tatum certainly sounds good to Celtics fans, it also comes with added pressure which as Pierce knows all too well, is a given for any player who suits up for the Green Team.
 
As Pierce strolled on to the practice floor, he admits that even after all these years “it brings chills every time, just stepping out (on the floor), grabbing the ball, reminiscing about the practice days, looking up at the banners.”
 
Ah yes, those banners.
 
Boston has 17 of them, more than any other NBA franchise.
 
But there’s one banner on the wall that remains blank, something that serves as a reminder for Pierce of what could have – no, should have – been at least another title during his 15 seasons as a Celtic which ended when the Celtics traded him to Brooklyn for a king’s ransom of draft picks, among them being the picked used to ultimately have Boston wind up with Tatum.
 
“’I left one (banner) behind,’” Pierce tells Tatum and then adds, “’You gotta fill that one up for me.’’’

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

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James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE