Celtics

Tatum reacts to Kevin Durant paying him the ultimate compliment

Celtics

If there's a silver lining for Jayson Tatum to take from the postseason, it's that he earned the respect of one of the NBA's best players.

In the latest episode of his podcast, "The Etcs. with Kevin Durant," Nets star Kevin Durant discussed what it was like facing Tatum during Brooklyn's first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

While the Celtics lost in five games, Tatum showed out by averaging 30.3 points in the series and dropping 90 points combined in Games 3 and 4 -- many of which he scored with Durant defending him.

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Durant admitted he had his hands full with Tatum in the series.

"Guarding him the whole playoffs — he’s shifty with it," Durant on the podcast. "He’s got long arms, too, so it’s like you don’t want to give up the 3 because he can get hot and that’s how their teams gets going. He’s just so good off the dribble. He gives you five or six dribbles, hesitations, then he’s so long to get to the cup he can finish over bigs. He’s a tough, tough cover."

If that wasn't praise enough, Durant then put Tatum in the same category of NBA legends like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Tim Duncan as elite players who he's battled with in the postseason.

 

“I’ve been in the league for 13, 14 years and I started to tally-mark the matchups, the series, the players that I’ve played against,” Durant continued. " ... I’ve had series against Kobe, LeBron, Tim Duncan, the Memphis Grizzlies — Jayson Tatum is in that conversation.

"He’s that elite level player already at 23 and I’m like, 'All right, I can see where this is going. It was an honor to play against him.'"

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The competitor in Tatum probably wishes Celtics-Nets was a closer series, but Durant's comments are a pretty cool stamp of approval that Tatum didn't take lightly.

Tatum has an extremely bright future after averaging 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists in his fourth NBA season. And if new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens can surround his superstar with more talent, perhaps the Celtics can give Durant's Nets a run for their money down the road.

"I hate that we’re in the same conference," Durant said. “Because I know as he starts to get older and their team -- we’re going to be battling them year in and year out.”