Aron Baynes is no longer on the Boston Celtics, but the Australian center is still a big fan of some of his former teammates.
Ahead of Australia's exhibition series with Team USA in the lead up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Baynes spoke about the potential of his ex-teammates, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Brown, 22, and Tatum, 21, are viewed as big parts of the Celtics' future, and Baynes indicated that both were on the right path to becoming top-tier players in the NBA.
"Those younger guys [Tatum and Brown] are thirsty to go out and improve their game and there's no better place than the summer time playing international ball against some of the best players in the world," Baynes said per ESPN's Niall Seewang. "Those guys are still in their rookie contracts and they're looking to prove themselves over the next couple of years and they definitely have all the tools to do it."
In particular, Baynes was complimentary of Tatum's skill set and said that he was ready for superstardom. Baynes pointed to Tatum's rare combination of offensive ability and desire to play defense as the primary reason for that.
"He's so talented," Baynes said per Seewang. "Even from the first day I played with him when he was a rookie in his first preseason, you could see how talented he was offensively and he also wants to work on the defensive end which isn't common in the NBA. Some guys live on that offensive talent but he wants to develop his all-round game."
Seeing Tatum continue to develop would certainly be nice. He didn't quite live up to the lofty expectations set for him ahead of his second season, yet he still averaged 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, all improvements over his rookie season. If he can continue to make strides during the 2019-20 campaign and improve upon his league-average shooting percentage, he should have a chance to be a star. And that's one of the major reasons the Celtics were reluctant to include him in any trade packages this offseason.
Either way, it's nice to see Tatum and Brown earning some praise from a former teammate. Despite all of the chemistry issues the Celtics had last year, the team seems to be on the right track with their new core, and Tatum and Brown could be a big part of their retooled roster.
As for Baynes, he will be a member of the Phoenix Suns this year after the Celtics traded him on draft night. Baynes, 32, averaged 5.6 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Celtics last year while serving as a solid weapon on the defensive side of the ball.
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