There are enormous expectations this year for the development of the Celtics young stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
For Tatum in particular, Veteran NBA writer Ian Thomsen believes the future is now.
Thomsen believes that replacing Kyrie Irving with Kemba Walker will ultimately prove to be a good thing for Tatum’s development.
“I think we’ll look back and say that Kyrie Irving was not a good influence on his (Tatum’s) game,” said Thomsen. “I don’t know about the influence on him as a person or anything like that but just the way he played and what his role was in the offense.
“I think, this year, he’s gonna go back to knowing exactly who he is and who he’s supposed to be and I think this will be his big breakout year.”
Last offseason Tatum worked out with Kobe Bryant and some speculated that set him on a bad path. Thomsen disagrees.
“He needs to be a ruthless, cut-throat, killer, scorer,” said Thomsen. “He needs to be the guy that’s number one on the scouting report and everybody is trying to stop him and he says you can do whatever you want I’m gonna be you anyway. That’s what they need Jayson Tatum to turn into. That’s the ‘Good Kobe’. They can worry about the other stuff later. Let him prove that he’s this all-NBA-level scorer and then you can live with all of the other stuff.”
As for Brown, it’s about refining his game and becoming a consistent two way player.
“I don’t think he’ll ever be Kawhi Leonard,” said Thomsen. “But he should be that kind of a two way player. He should wanna be one of these great two-way players in the NBA that locks down players of all different positions and then scores in a variety of ways and uses athleticism to dazzle you in the open floor and makes threes.”
Both Tatum and Brown have flashed tantalizing potential but now with Jaylen in year 4 and Tatum in year 3 it’s time to make the leap into stardom.
“There’s a clear path cut out for them that you can envision, and I think there’s a real sense of urgency too. Ok they’re young players, but, by now, the great players have shown who they are at the stages of their career that they’re in now. All the great players, they all do it by year 3 or year 4.
Especially in Jayson Tatum’s case. If he’s gonna be all-NBA scorer, this has to be the year he shows it. If he doesn’t start to show it this year, you’d start to wonder ok maybe his ceiling isn’t as high as we thought.”