Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum already clutch in big moments

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Jayson Tatum
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Jayson Tatum /

Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum is already proving to be a big time clutch performer.

Okay, we are only 11 games into the 2017 NBA season, but boy is Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum showing that he has what it takes to be big time in this league.

All credit to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge for telling green teamers and the rest of the NBA that this kid was the best player in the 2017 NBA draft.  He is not the most athletic or even the most dynamic, but he is proving he is the most NBA ready.

We saw a glimpse of his offensive and defensive maturity during the Summer League.  Now, we are seeing it in regular season games that matter.  Beyond the fact that he played more minutes than expected due to the Gordon Hayward injury, he is performing like he’s already been in the league awhile and his number tell just part of the story.

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

Through the first 11 games of his NBA career, he is averaging 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.  Along with the maturity he has shown on the defensive end, he has elevated his offense at times when the team needed him most.

Take Monday’s 110-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.  Tatum ended the night with 21 points and 8 rebounds in 32 minutes, but it was his clutch three-pointer from the corner that pretty much sealed the deal.  He had a few other big shots during important stretches of the game, but that shot signified what he is capable of giving this team for years to come.

Call it a Paul Pierce type of clutch moment if you will, but he may grow into something more. And don’t’ let his calmness and emotionless nature fool you.  The 19-year-old rookie is playing a grown man’s game better in his first few games better than some grown men have played through several seasons.

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The veterans have inspired

The Boston Celtics stars have helped impact Jayson Tatum’s game.  Not only has Al Horford clamored about his skillset offensively and defensively, Kyrie Irving has given his fellow Duke alum the encouragement to be a clutch closer.

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Following Monday night’s victory, Irving talked about that clutch three-pointer and the blunt words of wisdom he shared with Tatum.

"“That pass has to be made,” Irving said, via  “And (Tatum) has to shoot it.  And if he doesn’t shoot it, then I’m going to be right in his face telling him that he needs to (expletive) shoot it.”“Excuse my language, but he’s gotta stop up.”"

If there has been any criticism of Tatum so far in his young NBA career, it is that he doesn’t look for his offense enough.  Without Hayward, Tatum has to perform beyond his years for this team to get further than they did a year ago.  Maybe Monday night injected a confidence in him that will make him even better.  Irving knows it’s a great starting point.

"“Everybody in this locker room understands they’ve got to be great within their roles,” Irving said.  “So, that’s a knockdown.  That’s a knockdown right there for him.  I’m glad he made it.”"

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It may have been the shot that kept the Boston Celtics current nine game winning streak alive.