Celtics

Celtics star Jayson Tatum could be 'the guy' in the NBA, says ex-teammate

Celtics star Jayson Tatum could be 'the guy' in the NBA, says ex-teammate

Jayson Tatum is making the leap to the upper echelon of NBA stars during his third season with the Boston Celtics.

The 22-year-old forward made his first NBA All-Star Game appearance, he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February and he has established himself as the team's best player.

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One of Tatum's teammates during his rookie season was Shane Larkin, who spent this past season excelling for Turkish team Anadolu Efes in the EuroLeague. Larkin knew early on the special kind of talent Tatum possessed, and he preached a message of patience to Boston's young star.

"It's unreal," Larkin said on the latest Celtics Talk Podcast. "I talk to JT all the time, and it's funny, I just saw him do that podcast, 'All the Smoke', and he was talking about that stuff with Phoenix, when he went out there, and he was like, 'Phoenix is where I want to be.' I remember having conversations with him his rookie year and I was like, 'Bro, just be patient.' He was so talented, he wanted to get out there and immediately be who he wanted to be, and I'm like, 'You're 19 years old, bro, just be patient, relax, you're time is going to come and you're going to be one of the top guys in this league.'

"I've been saying that for years, and now you see what he's been doing. Sometimes it takes guys a year or two years to finally get that opportunity to be who they're going to be. This year was his time, and he took it and ran with it. Now, he's well on his way to being one of the best players in this league, for sure."

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If the 2019-20 regular season does not continue, Tatum will have averaged career highs with 23.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while also shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and 39.8 percent on 3-point shots.

How high is Tatum's ceiling, according to Larkin? Could he actually become the best player in the league?

"I don't see any reason why he can't be 'the guy' in the league. He has every single ability that he needs to have -- he has the size, he has the length, he has the IQ," Larkin said. "He can defend, he competes. He's so young, and he has so much potential that there's no reason why he can't be, and he shouldn't settle for anything less. 

"The great thing about JT is I think he has that mentality. I think you saw that his rookie year. He came in with that mentality -- he was patient, he didn't force it. He was very efficient as a rookie. He gained more responsibility and took it in stride. He's just met every single challenge head on, and he's been doing great. I'm happy for him."

The Celtics will be in the playoffs if the current season resumes, and even though Boston has a deep and very talented roster, the team's postseason run likely would only go as far as Tatum takes it.

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Jayson Tatum shouts out Celtics' Kara Lawson for landing Duke head coach job

Jayson Tatum shouts out Celtics' Kara Lawson for landing Duke head coach job

Kara Lawson is pulling a reverse Jayson Tatum.

The Duke women's basketball team announced Saturday it has named Lawson its new head coach, meaning she'll leave her role as a Boston Celtics assistant coach after this season to join the Blue Devils.

The Celtics will be sad to see Lawson go after her lone season as the first female assistant coach in franchise history. But Tatum, who starred at Duke before coming to Boston, approves of her next gig.

From one Tatum "family" to another.

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Lawson technically leaves behind two Duke alumni, as Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye played two seasons for the Blue Devils from 2013 to 2015 before transferring to SMU.

Tatum is a proud supporter of his alma mater -- where he spent just one season in 2016-17 before the Celtics drafted him No. 3 overall -- so his excitement for Lawson is understandable.

Tatum also will be hoping Lawson can help the Blue Devils back on track after they failed to reach the NCAA Tournament last season for just the second time in 25 years.

Celtics' Kara Lawson accepts Duke women's basketball head coach job

Celtics' Kara Lawson accepts Duke women's basketball head coach job

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. ET): Duke officially announced Kara Lawson as its next women's basketball head coach Saturday on social media.

-- End of update -- 

Kara Lawson indeed won't return for a second season with the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics assistant coach has accepted the Duke women's basketball head coaching job, NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely has confirmed. 

The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn first reported Saturday that Lawson accepted the Duke job, which became available after Blue Devils head coach Joanne McAllie announced last week she wouldn't return for a 14th season.

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Lawson made history last July when the Celtics hired her as the first female assistant coach in franchise history. The former University of Tennessee star and 13-year WNBA veteran -- who also served as an ESPN analyst after her WNBA career -- now can add "head coach" to her impressive basketball résumé.

Lawson also will break a barrier at Duke as the first Black head coach in the women's basketball program's history. If her comments last July are any indication, the Virginia native will work tirelessly to restore the Blue Devils to prominence after they failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

"My mindset is being the first to do something is great; I want to be the best," Lawson said after joining the Celtics. “I don’t want to be the best of my gender. I want to be the best in the league."

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