Ainge: Tatum was always the Celtics' top choice

Ainge: Tatum was always the Celtics' top choice

BOSTON --  For the past couple of years, Jayson Tatum has been a big-time talent.
As a high schooler, he was among the nation’s best. In his lone season at Duke, the 29-year-old established himself as one of college basketball’s top players.
And just like that, he’s off to the latest and greatest basketball challenge of them all -- the NBA, after the Boston Celtics selected him with the third overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft.
The Celtics had the top overall pick, but traded it to Philadelphia for the No. 3 selection and a future first-round pick.
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, made it clear that had they not struck a deal to move down a couple spots, they would have selected Tatum with the number one overall pick.


“It was a great compliment,” Tatum said via conference call after the draft. “I’m excited Danny Ainge thinks that highly of me.”
Said Ainge: “We like his size, length, shooting, intelligence, character. There’s a lot to like about Jayson. He’s going to be a terrific player.”
Coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments.
“He’s a really skilled player, really talented scorer,” Stevens said. “Great kid, great work ethic. We’re excited to have him aboard.”
And Tatum comes in having been told lots of positives about Brad Stevens from his college coach, Mike Krzyzewski.
“He had nothing but great things to say about [Stevens],” Tatum said. “I got that impression when I met him for the first time.”
During his visit with the Celtics, Tatum said he watched film of Boston’s offense with Stevens in addition to some film of when he played at Duke.
Tatum understands there will be a learning curve of sorts when it comes into the NBA.
But his growth must also come about physically, too.
He arrived at Duke weighing less than 200 pounds, but the 6-foot-8 wing player has gained about 10 pounds since then.
Aware that he needs to add additional weight, Tatum isn’t overly concerned about that right now.
“I’m just 19,” he said. “So I’m pretty sure my body’s going to continue to fill out and see where I get; a comfortable playing weight.”
He has identified three areas of his game that need to be strengthened at the next level: Consistency on defense, getting stronger and consistency shooting the ball.
And as a Celtic, Tatum has quickly picked up on one of the seldom-talked about but vital aspects of being a Celtic: A disdain for the Los Angeles Lakers.
That might be a little tricky at first for Tatum, who grew up a Kobe Bryant fan.
“It makes it easier that Kobe doesn’t play anymore,” Tatum said. “Kobe was always my favorite player. I guess I just rooted for them because he was on there.

"But I’m a Celtics fan now.”

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

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Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“He (Davis) was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

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And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”