Tatum can ‘crack the code’ of being the NBA’s best player, Beal says


Bradley Beal’s lifelong journey with fellow NBA star Jayson Tatum is well documented. The two grew up together in St. Louis, attended the same high school, won the same awards, and were both drafted third overall to teams they’ve spent their entire careers with to date.

As both players continue to develop their games and blossom into faces of the league, the older Beal took appraisal of Tatum, who was his protégé in his youth, and noted the potential of the Celtics forward.

“We all know what he’s capable of doing at his size. Obviously, we know that some of the most elite players in our league are 6’9” and above and Jayson’s right in that category,” Beal said on the Celtics Talk Podcast this week. “Just to see his numbers, to see his growth in his first, what, four or five years in the league—and I feel like he hasn’t even cracked the seal of really realizing how good he can possibly be.”


That’s a scary thought for the rest of the league: a physical and athletic 24-year-old forward who hasn’t reached his ceiling yet. Tatum put up career numbers in Boston this season, too. His 26.9 ppg, 4.4 apg, and 8.0 rpg were all career highs as the Celtics prepare for their first-round playoff matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.

Tatum has the tools to become an MVP-caliber player if he isn’t already, according to Bradley Beal.

“It's just a matter of putting it all together and just really dominating. Mentally, telling yourself every night that this is my floor, I'm the best player on the floor,” Beal said of Tatum. “He’ll crack that code every now and then, right? But the more he does it, I think he's starting to get it. I think over these last -- we’ll say [since] the [All-Star] break, since then [the Celtics have] lost like, what, four games? I think he's really started to see how he can really manipulate his game. He can really be one of those guys that you fear. So the sky is the limit for him. And it's all up to Jay though.”

The love between Tatum and Beal, four years his senior, is not just a one-way street. Just a few weeks ago, Tatum lauded Beal for molding him into the player he is today.

“I had a perfect role model, a perfect visualization every day, of where I wanted to go, what I wanted to be—and he was living proof,” Tatum said on an episode of the Draymond Green Show. “From day one, he always told me he wanted me to be better than him…I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Brad.”

Beal’s season ended early after he underwent wrist surgery in February. While the Wizards look ahead to the NBA Draft and free agency, Tatum’s Celtics are preparing for what could be another deep postseason run.

With the talent on Boston’s roster, it’s not inconceivable to think they could make it to their second Eastern Conference Finals in three years or even their first NBA Finals since 2010. It’s Jayson Tatum’s team, Beal noted, and he would be the one to bring them there.

“You know whenever you play Boston, you know who to stop. You know who the game plan is, you know who we’re trying to stop. So there's no surprise,” Beal said. “But to see Jayson be in the situation he’s in, to be in Boston, to be in a sports town, to be in basketball Mecca, essentially, there’s no story better written for him. All he has to do is just embrace the atmosphere that he's been in.”