Can the Boston Celtics' two franchise cornerstones coexist?
That's been a popular topic of discussion as the Celtics try to get over the hump with young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at their core. Tatum and Brown dismissed any notion they don't get along in a preseason interview with NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg.
"If y’all want to hear it from me, that’s my dog," Brown said of Tatum in October.
Two months later, Tatum offered some fresh perspective on his relationship with Brown during an appearance Tuesday on the "Knuckleheads" podcast with former NBA players Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
"It's been great," Tatum said. " ... Every day, every game, I know where I'm trying to get to and he knows where he's trying to get to, and we're trying to figure it out together.
"In a way, we're pushing each other. (There have) been times when he did something in a game and I'm thinking like, 'Damn, I'm trying to do that.' And some of the things I did, he's told me (the same thing). So everything we do, we compete, in a good way. I'm pushing him; we're playing 1-on-1 after practice."
That healthy competition has played a big role in Tatum and Brown both making All-Star teams before their 25th birthdays and becoming two of the NBA's brightest stars.
But their individual success has yet to translate into team success with Tatum and Brown in starring roles; Boston finished 36-36 last season and was bounced from the first round of the playoffs, while the Celtics are 13-11 through 24 games this season. (Brown has also missed 11 games due to injury).
So, how can the young duo elevate their game to new heights?
"I think the next step for us is even feeding off each other more in a game," Tatum said. "But JB is -- from where he started in his first year and what they tried to label him as 'he couldn't shoot' or whatever -- he shot 40% from three (last season) and made his first All-Star Game. I couldn't have been happier for him.
"Me and him just kind of took the same approach of, I'm getting better and he's getting better. We're not just staying the same. So, we're two of the hungriest players in the league. We're still trying to get there."
To Tatum's point, both he and Brown are incredibly talented. But if they can improve their on-court chemistry by becoming better playmakers and getting their teammates more involved when they're both on the court, they'll be much harder for defenses to contain.
Brown is questionable for Tuesday's game against the Lakers in Los Angeles after missing the previous two contests with a hamstring ailment.