Boston Celtics: Kevin Durant praises Jayson Tatum into elite level

Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

There are a couple of things Boston Celtics fans can thank the Brooklyn Nets for.  One is trading them draft picks that ended up turning into Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the other is providing the type of competition that show the NBA world just how elite Tatum can be.

With the recent shakeups in the Celtics front office following a disappointing regular season and early playoff exit, it is quite ironic that the team Danny Ainge robbed in a trade all those years back, is the same team that may have set the team back or at least in another direction.

Headlined by the superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, an injured and inconsistent Celtics team was really no match overall for the Nets, except for Tatum who basically had Durant on ice skates as he dropped 50 and 40 on Brooklyn in back-to-back games.

Kevin Durant puts Boston Celtics young star Jayson Tatum on an elite list

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Those performances drew quite a bit of praise out of Durant, who put Tatum in some pretty elite company.

"“I’ve been in the league for 13, 14 years and I started to like tally mark the matchups, the series, the players that I’ve played against,” Durant said on his podcast.  “…I’ve had series against Kobe (Bryant), LeBron (James), Tim Duncan, the Memphis Grizzlies – Jayson Tatum is in that conversation.  He’s that elite level player already at 23 and I’m like, alright, I can see where this is going.  It was an honor to play against him.”"

With Jaylen Brown missing throughout the playoff series and Kemba Walker out the final two games, that left Tatum against the three All-Stars, in which he really held his own.

Scoring over 30 points per game during the playoff series, Tatum really put the NBA, particularly Durant and the entire Eastern Conference on notice.  The Celtics had a down year and appear to be in a state of transition and flux now, but as long as they are building around the elite talent of Jayson Tatum, they will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

"“I hate that we’re in the same conference” Durant continued.  “Because I know as he starts to get older and their team, we’re going to be battling them year in and year out.”"

As dire as the 2020-21 NBA regular season was, those are encouraging words coming from one of the top players on the planet.  It also means the pressure is now on the organization, particular new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to assure his young duo of stars are happy.

The first task is finding the right coach and the next will be surrounding Tatum in particular with the type of roster that will help him compete year in and year out with super teams like the Nets.

Will that involve bringing in other stars like Bradley Beal or even perhaps a Karl-Anthony Towns to join forces with Tatum and Jaylen Brown to put the Celtics in the conversation again?

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Whatever the process involves, they clearly have a 1A in Tatum and the team will go as far as his growth as an elite star will take them.

Kevin Durant knows it, the entire NBA knows it and the Boston Celtics now have to make sure they don’t let this window of talent slip through their grasp.