Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge wanted Jayson Tatum in last June’s draft when everybody else wanted Markelle Fultz. Ainge made his play, trading his No. 1 pick to Philadelphia, getting a high pick back (either this draft or next, depending on where the Lakers fall this draft) and still getting his guy.
It is far, far too early to say Ainge won that trade. (Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid missed their rookie years and Ainge would love to have those guys on their team, let’s wait to make a call on Fultz.)
However, in the 2018 playoffs, Ainge has looked like a winner. How good has Tatum been in this series? Here is what Sixers coach Brett Brown had to say about him, via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“He is really good. Like, he is really good,” the 76ers coach said during Tuesday’s media availability. “He’s got a package that he shouldn’t at such a young age.
“You know, like they post him. He’ll come off and … hit spot-up threes. He’s got stuff off a live ball that has caught me off-guard where he really can dance in an isolation situation.”
In this series, Tatum has averaged 22.6 points per game on 50.4 percent shooting, doing a lot of his damage in transition and attacking the rim off the dribble — his handles are better than expected coming out of college. He’s also been a crucial part of the Celtics’ defense, with the team allowing less than a point per possession when he is on the court. Bottom line, the Celtics are +16.5 points per 100 sessions with him on the court in this series.
If Philly has any dreams of a comeback in this series, keeping Tatum in check has to be a big part of what they do. (That and solving the Al Horford problem.) That’s going to be tough to do at home, Tatum has shown an incredible comfort in the Garden that could spell real trouble for the 76ers.