With LeBron James now with the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Celtics are slated to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this upcoming season. They will have to battle the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors for top billing in the East, but guys like Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward will help propel Boston forward as they try to seek an NBA Finals bid in 2019.
Tatum was a breakout star for the Celtics last season after Gordon Hayward went down early in the year with a dislocated ankle and broken tibia. It was exactly what Boston was hoping for, and moving forward they now have a bevy of talent on the wing and at guard.
The only problem?
With Hayward back, coach Brad Stevens will need to find playing time for all of the top tier talent he has on the Celtics roster. That means Tatum could end up coming off the bench this year, something that he says he is willing to do.
“Everybody has a job to do,” he said. “Our job is to be the best versions of ourselves and come together for a bigger goal, which is winning a championship. Brad’s job is to manage playing time and manage all sorts of stuff. That’s why he’s the coach. We got a bunch of selfless guys on the team that just want to win. We’ll figure it out.”
Tatum said it does not matter to him whether he starts or comes off the bench.
“I understand how deep our team is,” he said. “I just care about winning and doing what I can while I’m on the floor.”
The most successful NBA teams are able to put aside ego and fill roles the way they need to in order to achieve their ultimate goal. Manu Ginobili was undoubtedly better than some of the players who started over him with San Antonio Spurs, but he often embraced his bench role. If Tatum can do that, even for just part of a season, it could give the Celtics an unmatched rotational strength in the East.
For now, Tatum is saying all the right things and it looks like Boston is going to be a complete hassle to deal with in 2018-19.