Boston Celtics 2017-18 player preview: Jayson Tatum

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

With the No. 3 pick overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics selected 6-foot-8 forward Jayson Tatum who projects to be a star. 

There hasn’t been more hype surrounding a Boston Celtics rookie entering the league since perhaps Larry Bird.

Selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, former Duke star Jayson Tatum brings a special kind of talent to the Celtics team.  His length, along with his maturity on the offensive and defensive side of the ball has drawn comparisons to Celtics legend Paul Pierce and current NBA star Paul George.

Yes, head coach Brad Stevens, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and fans are enthusiastic about the promise of Tatum and he showcased that in the NBA Summer League.  He showed off his offensive repertoire scoring 17.7 points per game and grabbing 8.0 rebounds.  Those numbers earned him NBA All-Summer League second team honors.

While his performance in the summer league earned a shower of praise, Jayson Tatum continued to show flashes in the preseason.  He showed that he is ready to make contributions this season during his journey of growth.

Looking back at college career in 2016-17

With Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball garnering most of the attention during the 2016 college basketball season, Jayson Tatum fell under the radar as he played in just 18 games for Duke due to a foot injury.

Still, his 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game made him an intriguing selection for the Boston Celtics.

As a team deep at the guard position, Tatum’s overall game at the forward position helped Ainge pull the trigger on trading the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers to select him at No. 3.

Related Story: Brad Stevens praises Jayson Tatum’s ‘savvy’ defense

Although not the most elite athlete coming out of the draft, his full assortment of offensive moves consisting of fadaways, crossovers and turnarounds makes him a smooth athlete who will just get better and better.  He also brings three-point range that will be utilized in the Brad Stevens space and pace offense.

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Last season at Duke, he was 34.2 percent from beyond the arc with four three-point attempts per game.  With Kyrie Irving’s ability to drive to the hoop, the attention Gordon Hayward will draw and Al Horford’s passing ability from down low, those attempts should increase.

In all, Tatum brings a diverse ability offensively and defensively, his 6-foot-11 wingspan should help the team’s versatility to defend with small lineups.

Previewing 2017-18

Due to Marcus Morris being sidelined for the first 10 games of the season, Jayson Tatum will get his chance to start on opening night.

In a way, how he plays against the Cleveland Cavaliers could either speed his progress or set him back a bit.  One thing is clear.  Brad Stevens must have a lot of confidence in the rookie to insert him into the starting lineup the first game of the season.

Next: Boston Celtics 2017-18 player preview: Jaylen Brown

Overall, expect and up and down season from Tatum with the high points outweighing any struggles he’ll encounter.  He could average double digits in points depending on how many minutes he earns per game.  By the end of the season, he’ll be one of the team’s top contributors on offense and one of their best defenders due to his maturity and wing span.

When all is said and done, I believe Jayson Tatum will end up as the most complete player taken in the 2017 draft.