BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum was excited about working out for the Boston Celtics.
But he knew that, health-wise, he wouldn’t be at his best.
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He could have easily pulled out like others had, or just told the Celts in advance so they could take it into account when they were deciding on who to take with the No. 3 pick.
Instead, he kept it to himself until after his workout, focused on doing what the best in the NBA do on a nightly basis -- finding a way to play their best when at their worst physically.
“I wasn’t feeling well, but you can’t make excuses,” Tatum said during an interview with CSN’s Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “There can be times in the future where there’s a game or playoff game where you’re not feeling well. Nobody is going to care. You have to produce.”
Did. He. Ever.
The workout didn’t just go well. It ranked among the best Danny Ainge had seen, which made the decision for Boston to select the 6-foot-9 forward from Duke with the No. 3 pick an easy call.
Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, had an eye on Tatum all season and acknowledged he had high expectations for him to perform at during his workout in Boston.
“He was better than I actually thought,” Ainge said during the CelticsTalk Podcast with Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “Which was hard to do, because we thought highly of him before.”
During the workout, Ainge saw a young man who had worked on improving his perimeter shooting to the point where it was actually one of his stronger qualities.
“As I watched him play earlier in his life . . . what he lacked was his range shooting,” Ainge said. “He was a very good mid-range player and good passer off the dribble. But the range shooting, what he showed us in the workout here was very impressive. We had two workouts with him. And in both of them, he was one of the best shooters in this whole draft at any position, and one of the best shooters we’ve had in here for any draft.”
Making Tatum’s workout all that more impressive was it came with him far from at his best health-wise, something the Celtics didn’t learn of until afterwards.
“He wanted to be here from the very beginning, even before we got the number one pick,” Ainge said. “He wanted to be here. He came in here and showed it. He came on his workout and was sick. He was on antibiotics, nose was dripping and he didn’t complain. And he still played and played well. That was impressive, how much he showed, how much he wanted to be here.”
Tatum said his mindset coming into his workout was simple.
“I knew the draft pick was on the line,” Tatum said. “I had to really perform and I think I did really well.”