Boston Celtics: Brad Stevens praises Jayson Tatum’s ‘savvy’ defense

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 2: Jayson Tatum /

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is very impressed with the defensive skills of rookie Jayson Tatum. 

The praise doesn’t stop raining down on Boston Celtics heralded rookie Jayson Tatum.

Ahead of Monday night’s preseason game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens marveled about the defensive talent of the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft.

"“I’ve always erred on the side of watching guys play watching what they can do offensively,” Stevens said Monday, as transcribed by  “Because I think there will always be the opportunity to figure out your best method to guard with your group.  I probably spend more time watching him on the other end of the court.”"

With Tatum’s offensive skill set standing out, his length and wing span makes him valuable defender on the defensive side of the court.  While the rookie has noted himself that he needs to build his body to become more physical, Stevens likes what he sees so far.  Like the maturity he exhibits on offense, the Boston Celtics coach sees the same kind of maturity in his defensive skills.

BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 2: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA – OCTOBER 2: Jayson Tatum /

"“I don’t know if surprised is the right word, but Jayson Tatum’s defense is beyond his years,” Stevens continued.  “He’s very savvy and very long.  He uses his length.  His arms are out and he gets his hands on balls and deflects passes and discourages drives just because of his length.  I think he’ll continue to get better and better with the other stuff systemically, but he’s done a good job for a young guy so far.”"

That defensive ability may garner Jayson Tatum more playing time throughout the regular season.

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More preseason promise

Jayson Tatum scored seven points in the team’s 113-96 victory over the 76ers Monday night at TD Garden.

He started off the game with a 3-pointer that once again displayed his versatility as an offensive player.  Adding just two rebounds for the night, it wasn’t a complete impressive performance.  Rather it was indicative of the season in store for the promising rookie.

There will be nights he will really impress, and there will be nights where it will be obvious he has some learning to do.  How quickly he learns will be the true measure of how high his ceiling will become.

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If any player knows that, it is Marcus Smart who commented on Tatum’s performance following the game.

"“(Tatum) is a baby,” Smart said.  “He’s really good.  He’s really coachable, so he listens.  His work ethic is tremendous.  He’s always working.  He’s always asking questions when he doesn’t know something and he’s willing to learn.  When you have a guy like that, it’s easy to play with him.”"