Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum off and flying in first NBA season

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 24: Jayson Tatum /

Boston Celtics high-profile rookie Jayson Tatum is living up to the hype through the first four games of his NBA career. 

Gordon Hayward may not be walk through that door in 2017, but Jayson Tatum is.  The Boston Celtics rookie has impressed in the early part of this season and will only get better.

Just 19 years of age, the 2017 No. 3 pick overall in the NBA draft has been thrown in the fire due to the injuries of both Hayward and veteran forward Marcus Morris.  He has started all four games this season, including a highlight performance in Tuesday night’s 110-89 victory over the New York Knicks.

The product out of Duke scored a career high 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting, including 4 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc.  He also made his presence known on the defensive end with four steals and two blocks.

In fact, it is his defense that has been most impressive so far.  Along with his 14.8 points per game, he is also pulling down 7.8 rebounds and has seemingly made an impressive block in each of the four games he has played.

As mentioned prior to the season, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is pleasantly surprised by the maturity of Tatum’s defensive game.

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"“He’s got long arms, first and foremost,” Stevens said following Tuesday night’s game, via the Worcester Telegram.  “He stays in plays.  A lot of times, he’s guarding a stretch player, whether it’s a four or a three, so he can go rebound over the top.  Very rarely is he in the midst of those physical battles on the block where he’s having to hold somebody off and get the rebound although he has gotten a couple of those as well.”"

Heavy minutes

Due to the unforeseen circumstance of possibly losing Gordon Hayward for the entire season, the 6-foot-8 rookie has been thrown in the mix sooner than expected.  He has played over 35 minutes per game and has recognized early that he needs to learn on the fly to help his team win.

"“I’ve got to learn on the fly,” Tatum said.  “But that’s how to learn, by being out there on the floor.”"

While we all know Tatum will go through some trials and tribulations at such a young age, his maturity as a player is what will help him grow stronger as a contributor during those stretches.

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In the meantime, Stevens just hopes Tatum takes each game as a learning experience in which he can improve upon.  He can’t allow himself to get too high following games like Tuesday night and he can’t get too low following games in which he struggles.  He has to stay mentally prepared in a long NBA season.