As Jayson Tatum continues to establish himself as the Boston Celtics No. 1 scoring option, he’s gaining plenty of praise along the way from the NBA’s greats.
After Tatum drained a 26-footer with roughly 9.0 seconds left on the clock to lift the Celtics over the Trail Blazers, 116-115, on Tuesday, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony were singing his praises.
Following the game, both Lillard and Melo admitted they saw some facets of themselves in the 23-year-old Celtics star.
“As a player who has been in that position where your role is getting bigger, each year that goes by, you get more comfortable,” Lillard explained. “He’s been in those situations more often. He’s missed those shots. He’s turned the ball over. He’s experienced it. From that, you get more and more comfortable.
When another player leaves the door open, it’s your opportunity to shut it on them. And he does it. I’ve done it to people plenty of times. You’ve got to give credit to him and his growth as a player.”
The Eastern Conference Player of the Week finished the night with 32 points on 10-17 FG shooting to go along with nine rebounds and five assists. Of course, there was the clutch game winner, too.
“Tatum hit a great shot down the stretch. You tip your hat to him,” Anthony said. “He’s evolving. He’s becoming more and more comfortable being that guy, being in that role. He’s embracing it. That’s all that matters...
While the young Celtics player is still continuing to earn respect from those around the league, Tatum reflected on how much of an impact players like Anthony and Lillard have had on his trajectory.
“I have the utmost respect for both of them and everything they’ve accomplished,” Tatum said. “Melo was one of my idols. Besides Kobe (Bryant) he was one of my favorite players. Any time I get to talk to him or see or especially play against him, I don’t take that for granted. Just knowing that I used to watch film of him and his moves when I was in high school and middle school.
"That’s one of the things I enjoy, getting respect from some of the guys I used to look up to, still look up to. That means a lot.”