Celtics

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Jayson Tatum be a championship team's best player in 2020?

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Jayson Tatum be a championship team's best player in 2020?

Expectations are very high for the Boston Celtics with the NBA's restart taking place later this month at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The Celtics have become a popular pick as a team that could make a deep run in the 2020 NBA playoffs, and potentially reach the NBA Finals.

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NBA legend and six-time champion Scottie Pippen said earlier this week on ESPN's "The Jump" that Celtics star Jayson Tatum already is capable of being the best player on a championship-caliber team. Tatum is in the midst of a breakout year, and he's leading the team in scoring at 23.6 points per game. The 22-year-old forward is making a tremendous impact on defense, too, which helps illustrate the exciting two-way skill set he's consistently built on since entering the league in 2017-18.

What do our experts think of Pippen's claim? NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Insiders A. Sherrod Blakely and Chris Forsberg, along with Kyle Draper, discussed this topic on the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast.

"I think he will be. I don't think he's that dude right now. Not right now," Blakely said. "I just think there are too many obstacles in his way that I think will keep him from being that guy right now.

Which obstacles?

"Let's see, some guy named LeBron James and Anthony Davis. There's this guy in MIlwaukee who I hear is pretty good. There's a couple guys in Philadelphia who -- they could make things a little complicated as well," Blakely said. "Tatum is going to be that guy. I'm not seeing he won't be that guy. I think he will. I just don't think he's that guy right now."

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Tatum be a title team's best player? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Forsberg had a different take.

"The last time I saw Jayson Tatum, he was that guy," Forsberg said. "Look, is it fair to think he'll pick up on quite that level, I don't know. But I think a lot of people forgot Kemba Walker was hurt with the way Tatum played over the final two months. I think it is asking a lot of him to get back to that level -- I don't think he's going to average 30 points per game and shoot 50 percent from 3-point land. And yet I do think if the Celtics are going to go anywhere, it does rely on Jayson Tatum being the best player. Kemba has to be very good, but Tatum has to be your best guy, and bring his two-way impact if (the Celtics) are going to reach those lofty goals."

Tatum proved he could be the leading player on a very good team during his rookie season when he nearly led the Celtics to an upset win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. He's a better player now than he was in 2018, but the East as a whole also is a lot stronger today.

It's probably a little too early to definitively say Tatum is already capable of being the best player on a championship contender, but if he plays anywhere close to the level we saw from him in February and early March, it wouldn't be surprising if the young star led Boston on a deep playoff run later this summer.

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.

Will Celtics land Grizzlies' 2020 first-round draft pick? Scenarios explained

Will Celtics land Grizzlies' 2020 first-round draft pick? Scenarios explained

Do the Boston Celtics really want to beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night?

Here's why that's a question worth asking: The Celtics own the rights to the Grizzlies' first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, unless Memphis' pick lands in the top six. If the Grizzlies earn a top-six pick, they'll send an unprotected 2021 first-round pick to Boston instead.

Basically, whether the Celtics land Memphis' pick in 2020 comes down to whether the Grizzlies make the playoffs.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

IF MEMPHIS MAKES THE PLAYOFFS
It doesn't enter the draft lottery, guaranteeing its picks is outside the top 14. Boston gets the Grizzlies' 2020 pick.

IF MEMPHIS MISSES THE PLAYOFFS
... It's a little more complicated.

Here are the current Western Conference standings, with the Grizzlies clinging on to the final playoff spot with three games remaining.

8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-38)
9. Portland Trail Blazers (33-39) 0.5 games back
10. San Antonio Spurs (31-38) 1 GB
11. Phoenix Suns (31-39) 1.5 GB

The final Western Conference playoff spot is decided by a play-in series between the No. 8 and No. 9 seed, and Memphis is among four teams still in contention for that spot.

If the Grizzlies finish eighth or ninth and lose the play-in series, they'll enter the draft lottery at No. 14 and have a 2.4 percent chance of moving up to a top-five pick, which would delay the pick going to Boston until 2021.

If they miss the play-in game and finish as the No. 10 seed, their odds of landing a top-five pick increase to 5.7 percent. And if they tank all the way to No. 11, those odds bump to 6.1 percent.

Put another way: The Celtics, at worst, have a 93.9 percent chance of getting Memphis' draft pick this year.

In all likelihood, then, Boston will have three first-round selections in the 2020 NBA Draft:

-- Grizzlies' pick (top-6 protected)
-- Celtics' own pick
-- Milwaukee Bucks' pick (top-7 protected)

Earning the Grizzlies' pick this year probably is the best-case scenario for the Celtics. Ja Morant leads a talented young Memphis squad that should be better in 2020-21, which would mean a worse pick for the C's in the 2021 draft.

So, back to the original question: Do the Celtics really want to beat the Grizzlies? In short, yes: It's all but guaranteed the C's get Memphis' pick this year, so the lower the Grizzlies are in the standings, the better for Boston.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown continues to be MVP of the bubble for C's

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown continues to be MVP of the bubble for C's

Jaylen Brown has improved every facet of his game in Year 4 of his promising NBA career.

The Boston Celtics forward is averaging career highs in every major statistical category, and he's done a stellar job playing the Robin to Jayson Tatum's Batman throughout the 2019-20 season.

So far in the Orlando bubble, though, it's Brown who has taken over as Boston's Most Valuable Player.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Grizzlies, which begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Brown has been on fire through six games in the bubble, averaging 21.7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 assists through six games. On a brand new edition of the Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely emphatically explains to Kyle Draper why Brown is indisputably Boston's best player at this point in time.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Banner 18 in the bubble? Celtics' title chances getting stronger as postseason nears | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"In this moment, right now. Jaylen Brown is the best two-way player on this team right now. Right this minute," said Blakely. "And I'll go a step further, Jaylen Brown is the best player on this team period right now based on what he's doing in the bubble. Now, when we get to the playoffs do I expect him to be their best player? No. I expect him to be in the top three. I expect Tatum or Kemba to elevate and be that guy."

Blakely also praised Brown for continuing to be a leader off the court while dominating on it. After Sunday's overtime win vs. the Orlando Magic, the 23-year-old spoke at length about the issues of police brutality and mental health.

"Jaylen Brown is killing it, man. I mean he has been just an absolute beast," Blakely said. "And the thing that I love about Jaylen is that not only is he being a beast on the court and helping his team win, but all the social issues that he was championing before he got in the bubble that he said he would continue to have those conversations and use his platform to elevate those discussions, he's kept his word along those lines."

Also discussed on the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast: How will Stevens handle playoff rotation? Has Robert Williams earned playing time over Enes Kanter? Who is the Celtics' ideal first-round opponent? And is Gordon Hayward the C's X-factor for the playoffs?

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast on your favorite podcast app or watch it on YouTube below.