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.’’’

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Isaiah Thomas jokingly vows to never play defense again after thumb injury

Isaiah Thomas jokingly vows to never play defense again after thumb injury

Isaiah Thomas' latest attempt to return to NBA stardom suffered a setback this week when he suffered a thumb injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.

The veteran point guard, who signed with the Washington Wizards in July, tweeted Wednesday he suffered the injury playing defense. 

You have to give Thomas credit for injecting a little humor into what is obviously a difficult situation for him.

Thomas quickly became a beloved figure in Boston despite his short tenure with the Celtics. He suffered a hip injury playing for the C's during the 2016-17 season, and he was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston in August of 2017. Thomas has struggled to stay healthy and regain his All-Star form since that trade, and the the Wizards will be his fourth team since leaving Boston.

It's safe to say the basketball world is rooting hard for Thomas to make a successful comeback from his latest injury.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

For Day 3 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our panel to take a trip to the hardware store and predict which Celtics player might bring home some of the NBA’s hardware by winning a postseason award.

Outside of maybe only Most Valuable Player, there’s an argument to be made that a Celtics player, coach, or executive could muscle their way into the conversation for the league’s other top honors. Alas, you’d have to rewind to the 2007-2008 season to find the last time the Celtics found themselves in that spotlight when Kevin Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.

Celtics players haven’t muscled their way into the voting much in recent seasons. Last year, only Marcus Smart charted on an award while finishing eighth in Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017-18, while Al Horford was fifth in Defensive Player of the Year balloting that season. Isaiah Thomas was fifth in both MVP and Most Improved voting for the 2016-17 campaign.

But if the Celtics are to outkick most prognosticator’s expectations this season, they’ll need someone on their roster to at least vault into the conversation for these awards.

So who is most likely to earn themselves a shiny trophy?

Our vote went to Marcus Smart for Sixth Man of the Year. With the glut of wing depth this season, we believe there’s a strong chance that Smart will initially shuffle back to his familiar bench role, allowing coach Brad Stevens to trot out a versatile starting lineup featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and a big (with Enes Kanter the early favorite to hold that starter job initially).

Stevens has long preferred to deploy Smart in a reserve role, allowing Smart to set the tone for the second unit while also providing another ball-handler for the second group. The Celtics went away from that last season when Smart elevated from a bench role in November and started 60 games overall. Kyrie Irving routinely advocated for Smart, noting how much he enjoyed playing alongside him at the start of games, which only solidified Smart’s spot with the first unit.

A similar script could certainly unfold this season. But it would be the most Marcus Smart thing if he’s the player that embraces shuffling to the second unit and allows Hayward, Tatum, and Brown to play with the first group.

Yes, the Sixth Man award tends to honor a high-scoring player on one of the league’s top teams. But if the Celtics overachieve this season, there will be extra attention on the player(s) that spearheaded the second unit. Smart, with his All-Defense pedigree and improving offensive efficiency, could dive into the conversation for Sixth Man the same way he pounces on a loose ball.

Abby Chin: Gordon Hayward, Sixth Man of the Year

I believe Hayward will be almost — if not fully — back to his Utah self this season. But, with the glut of talent on the wing, and Hayward's ability to facilitate the offense on that second unit, it might make the most sense for him to come off the bench again. I think Hayward will finish games on the court, he just may not start there.

 

Sherrod Blakely: Brad Stevens, Coach of the Year

The Celtics will finish with a record that exceeds the expectations of many, and will include wins over East favorites Philly and Milwaukee.

 

Max Lederman: Gordon Hayward, Most Improved

Hayward has been in the lab all summer working on getting back to the player he was before the injury. He had a few flashes last season, but was a shell of his former self. I know this award tends to go to a young breakout player but I think a really strong start to the season could make some folks consider taking a different approach with their votes.

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