In becoming the first active Celtics player since Bird to be a member of the Team USA basketball team in the Tokyo Olympics, Tatum is representing the green well and really has been all season long.
Now, he probably would rather be practicing for Game 2 of the NBA Finals instead of preparing for the Olympic games, but the overall team’s disappointments this season has at least showcased Tatum as a bonafide superstar in the league and has provided him with the type of growth necessary to take his game to another level on both sides of the court.
Greg Popovich gushes over Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum
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San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich certainly sees that growth as he coached him in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. In a one-year span, Popovich has seen Tatum emerge from a young talent in the league to a two-way player who can dominate the court.
"“During that (2019) camp and from that time to now, under Brad’s tutelage, he’s become more of a two-way player,” Popovich said after Team USA’s first practice, via Masslive.com. “He’s way more confident, he’s developed more skills, he’s on top of that, more aggressive and he knows he can dominate people. He’s much different going into this situation than before.”"
On a team filed with talent, all eyes will be on Tatum if you are a Celtics fan. Not only would you be rooting for him to lead the team to a Gold medal, but you also want to see how the team’s failures in 2020 motivates the young star.
There should already be some added fuel to his game after being snubbed for All-NBA team considerations, but those skills to dominate players like Popovich mentioned will be on display. As Tatum showed during the season and into the playoffs, he is capable of putting up 40, 50, even 60 points on any given night against any given player.
Just ask Kevin Durant.
But what should help Tatum grow even more this summer is the challenge a coach like Popovich will present him, particularly on the defensive side of the basketball. We all know how talented he is offensively, but if he grows into an elite defender, which he has the talent, size and versatility to do, he will be a very unique superstar in today’s game.
As far as representing his county in the Olympics, Tatum is very excited, especially with the opportunity to play with the likes of good friend Bradley Beal and stars like Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Draymond Green.
"“I get a chance to play in the Olympics and compete for a gold medal,” Tatum said in a Team USA video. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited to be playing with a new group of guys. It all starts here.”"
It certainly does start here. The question won’t be whether the Boston Celtics star will dominate, it will be how much he dominates opposing players. As long as he doesn’t suffer any kind of injury, it should be a great experience for Tatum and an experience that should help the Celtics as a team going into the 2021-22 NBA season.