Boston Celtics: 5 reasons Jayson Tatum was a good pick

2017 NBA Draft

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Jayson Tatum (Duke) is interviewed after being selected as the number three overall pick to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics would’ve picked Jayson Tatum even if they would’ve kept their No. 1 pick. That means Danny Ainge sees a lot of potential in him.

The Boston Celtics selected wingman Jayson Tatum with their No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft Thursday evening.

Tatum is a 6’8″ freshman with a 6’11” wingspan. His crafty foot work should allow him to get a shot off, even against the elite wing defenders in the NBA.

Of course, Boston traded away its No.1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers just days before the NBA Draft, receiving Philly’s No. 3 pick and a protected 2018 first round pick from the Celtics via the Los Angeles Lakers (or a 2019 first-rounder via the Sacramento Kings if it doesn’t convey).

The trade was made because Boston would’ve selected Tatum with the first pick anyway. By trading the No. 1 overall pick to Philly, the Celtics received an extra future first round draft pick, as Ainge explains further via CSN New England.

“Yes, we would have picked him with the first pick. But the draft was very even, we felt, at the top all the way through maybe five or six. And it was very difficult. There was a lot of players we liked in this draft.”

When Tatum adjusts to the speed and athleticism of the NBA, he should become a great young player for the Celtics as they continue to fight for dominance in the east. Without further ado, here are the five biggest reasons why Tatum’s skills will improve the Boston Celtics.

Jan 30, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots over Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Steve Vasturia (32) in the first half at the Purcell Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5: Great rebounder

In his freshman season at Duke University, Jayson Tatum averaged 7.3 rebounds per game. This is a positive sign. At only 19 years of age, his body hasn’t quite filled out yet. Standing at 6’8″, he only weighs 204 pounds. As he puts on more weight, he should be able to continue grabbing boards at a proficient rate at the next level.

The Celtics were the fourth-worst rebounding team in the NBA last season. Al Horford, an undersized center, leads the team with just 6.8 rebounds per game. Without an elite rebounder, Boston is forced to take a rebound-by-committee approach.

Nothing is more deflating to a team than an offensive rebound after a solid defensive possession forcing an opponent into attempting a difficult shot.

Boston was dead last in defensive rebounding percentage last postseason. Tatum’s contributions on the boards will lead to less second chance points for opponents and more fast break opportunities for Boston.

Mar 19, 2017; Greenville, SC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives to the basket against South Carolina Gamecocks forward Maik Kotsar (21) during the first half in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4: Versatility

In the modern NBA, versatility is one of the most common attributes of great teams. We’re now seeing wings that can also play point guard, a-la LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as seven-footers that can knock down three-pointers like Kristaps Porzingis and DeMarcus Cousins.

During the Big Three era with the Miami Heat, we often heard coach Erik Spoelstra talk about position-less basketball. Now, we see the Golden State Warriors who have so many players that can shoot, dribble and pass.

Jayson Tatum is a player explosive and quick enough to play small forward, and just big enough to slide down to power forward. He can switch out and effectively cover point guards, or bang with power forwards down low.

Head coach Brad Stevens really likes Tatum’s versatility, per CSN New England.

“The biggest thing is that we really value his versatility. A couple of years ago, I talked about how we were thin on guys that could play a number of different positions, when you talk about, really, two (shooting guard), three (small forward), four (power forward). Now we’re starting to really . . . we’ve got a lot of position-less players that can dribble, pass, and shoot. That’s a good thing.”

Mar 10, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) drives up to the net over North Carolina Tar Heels guard Joel Berry II (2) during the first half during the ACC Conference Tournament at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3: Professional scorer

What Tatum will be known for in the NBA is his ability to score the basketball. He can catch-and-shoot, pick-and-pop, dribble pull-up and everything in between. Tatum has a great midrange game, a skill that will make him stand out in an era of threes, layups and advanced analytics.

His post game reminds me of Carmelo Anthony‘s. He’s got the jab-step, step back and one-dribble pull-up moves in his arsenal. He can even go to the one-legged Dirk Nowitzki fadeaway against shorter defenders. When posting up against a defender that is bigger than him, he can beat them with his spin move. Despite not having an extremely explosive first step, Tatum can still blow by defenders because his long strides allow him to take one dribble for a layup from the perimeter.

Tatum’s three-point shot could definitely use some work. He shot a solid 34.2 percent from the three-point line at Duke. At only 19 years old, he has plenty of time to improve his stroke in the NBA.

We’ve seen a lot of players come into the NBA with a poor outside shot, but manage to become proficient marksmen later on in their career. The good news is that, Tatum has a good shooting form. It’s always easier to build on top of a solid foundation.

Feb 15, 2017; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots a free throw against the Virginia Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2: Great free throw shooter

Jayson Tatum should develop into a really good scorer in his NBA career. He’s big, strong and his footwork is extremely advanced for his age.

What do most great scorers in the NBA do well? They get to the free throw line frequently. If Tatum evolves into a 20 points a night scorer in the NBA, he will make teams pay for sending him to the charity stripe.

Tatum made 4.1 of his 4.8 attempts from the line at Duke, an 84.9 percent mark. Out of the other top five draft picks, De’Aaron Fox came in a distant second at 73.6 percent. None of the other players made even 70 percent of their attempts.

Tatum’s ability to convert at the line doesn’t allow the defense any bailouts when he is attacking the rim, making him a future go-to option for Boston when it needs a bucket.

Feb 28, 2017; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts after a teammate scored in the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1: Positive attitude

When watching Tatum in interviews, you get the sense that he is a humble, down-to-earth person. The hallmarks of great players in the NBA are talent and work ethic, of which Tatum appears to possess both.

Brad Stevens likes Tatum’s consistency, which was impressive for a player his age, per CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely.

“He never changed his expression. Never changed his expression, went at a high tempo, but when he missed a shot he never showed anything but resolve to make the next one.”

Also, Danny Ainge and the Celtics seemed to distance themselves from Josh Jackson after he cancelled his workout with the team, per ESPN‘s Chris Forsberg.

“Never talked with Josh. No one in our organization did,” Ainge said. “They cancelled a workout on us when we flew out to Sacramento, and they just decided to cancel it as we flew — just [coach] Brad [Stevens] and I and [assistant general manager] Mike Zarren flew cross-country.

Ainge seemed to be bothered that Jackson cancelled his meeting with the team after they made an effort to fly across the country to work him out, per ESPN‘s Chris Forsberg.

“No. No. no. Well, there were thoughts, yeah, I was mad. We flew cross-country. Are you kidding me? I had to get up at 4 o’clock and fly back home.”

It’s a privilege to play in the NBA, and Jackson blew off a workout with a team that had shown interest in him, and for the Celtics, that came off the wrong way.

Tatum’s humble demeanor and willingness to comply over Jackson put him in a much better position to get drafted by the Celtics. His work ethic should mold him into a great player in Boston.

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