Paul George

Jayson Tatum 'hasn't been able to touch a basketball' since Celtics last game

Jayson Tatum 'hasn't been able to touch a basketball' since Celtics last game

Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics have been sidelined for over a month. And during the NBA's suspension, the C's budding superstar hasn't been able to play basketball at all.

"I haven't been able to touch a basketball since our last game at Indiana," Tatum said to Rachel Nichols on ESPN's The Jump. "I got stuff to work out at home and cardio and weights and stuff, but yeah. I haven't played basketball in a long time."

Though Tatum hadn't recently played basketball, he certainly seemed excited to have a chance to talk basketball. And Nichols asked him some entertaining questions.

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The first was about why Tatum thought James Harden should've been named MVP over Giannis Antetokounmpo last season. Tatum had mentioned that he thought Harden should've been the 2018-19 MVP in a recent Instagram Live session, and Tatum explained his thought process regarding that.

"You're splitting hairs last year when you're choosing between those two," Tatum said. "For me, James Harden, he scored 30 like 42 games in a row or something like that. And Chris Paul was hurt a lot and they were dealing with a lot of injuries. I don't remember exactly what seed they were, but what he was doing was pretty remarkable."

That's certainly a fair point. And Harden did average an NBA-best 36.1 points per game while also averaging 7.5 assists and a career-high 2.0 steals per game. As Tatum said, choosing between him and Antetokounmpo (27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 60-win season) was splitting hairs, and both definitely had a valid case for the award.

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Another topic that Tatum and Nichols broached was Tatum's epic ankle-breaker against Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the season. Tatum actually downplayed how great the move was and revealed something about the play that may have impacted George.

"I remember I just came off the screen, they switched, and -- I mean, I think I stepped on his foot a little bit," Tatum said. "So, we got tangled up and he fell, and I knocked down the shot. I ain't gonna say I that I broke his ankles because I kinda stepped on his foot."

Tatum can downplay the move all he wants, but even if he did step on George's toes a little, it was still a slick-looking play. And it did a lot to keep the Celtics in the game late against one of the Western Conference's best teams.

Fans will hope that Tatum will soon have a chance to make similarly excellent plays. But the league is still facing an uncertain future amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it remains unclear if they will be able to return and complete the 2019-20 season.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum reveals one of his favorite rookie moments

Celtics star Jayson Tatum reveals one of his favorite rookie moments

For many NBA rookies, it can be pretty awe-inspiring to compete against star players who you've admired all your life.

It sure sounds like Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum felt this way when he played against the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road as a rookie during the 2017-18 season.

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The Thunder, at that time, had a veteran-laden roster that included star forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony -- two versatile wings with an offensive game similar to Tatum's. Tatum recently talked about his favorite rookie moments, and he mentioned a quick interaction with Anthony that really hit him.

The Celtics trailed the Thunder by 18 points at halftime that night, but thanks to a 22-point second half performance from point guard Kyrie Irving, Boston prevailed with a 101-94 victory to extend its win streak to seven games. Tatum scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

The admiration between Tatum and Anthony goes both ways. Earlier this year, Anthony said he loves watching Tatum play and noted the Celtics forward is "like a little brother to me."

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Tatum had a brilliant rookie campaign and helped lead the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The 22-year-old forward has taken a huge step toward superstardom in the current 2019-20 season, during which he made his first NBA All-Star Game appearance in February. He also won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February after averaging 30.7 points per game over that stretch.

If Tatum's career trajectory keeps rising, he could someday be a veteran superstar who rookies are really excited to play against for the first time.

Who does Kendrick Perkins think is the NBA's most overrated player? Paul George

Who does Kendrick Perkins think is the NBA's most overrated player? Paul George

Former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins has an opinion about everything. And that includes the NBA's most overrated player.

Appearing on NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Pregame Live, Perkins was asked about who he thought was the league's most overrated. After some hesitation, he came with his answer.

"To me, it's Paul George," Perkins said.

And his reasoning? You can hear it here, via the Celtics on NBC Sports Boston's Twitter account.

"Everybody put him in that superstar status but I don't believe that," Perkins said. "I've witnessed too many times where Paul George has disappeared. And, to me, in my opinion, he's one of the most overrated players."

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That's certainly a bold take from Perkins. After all, George is averaging 20.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game for the Los Angeles Clippers while continuing to play the stellar defense that made him an MVP contender last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

George hasn't been asked to do as much with the Clippers and has only played in 40 games this season due to injuries. But as the team's second star next to Kawhi Leonard, he has been solid.

Still, Perkins has never been afraid to speak his mind, and maybe he has a point. If George wilts down the stretch, perhaps he'll prove Perk right.

For more of Perkins' thoughts in the lead-up to the Celtics' game against the Utah Jazz, check out the clip below or watch it on YouTube.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Thunder-Celtics, which begins Sunday at 5 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.