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On Friday night, Team USA held a scrimmage for the training camp roster as we get closer to the FIBA world cup in early September. There, Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker took the spotlight while filling the stat sheet.
Jayson Tatum shooting over De'Aaron Fox at a Team USA practice. Photo via Ethan Miller 

Playing for the blue team, Walker took the leading role at the point guard position. In 16 minutes he scored 14 points with 4 assists and a shooting percentage of 54.5. He finished the night with a +/- of 15 and showed his veteran leadership throughout the game.
While Kemba certainly proved that his All-NBA talent does carry over into a Team USA uniform, it was 21-year-old Celtics forward Jayson Tatum that snatched up the most headlines. Wearing Paul Pierce's famed #34, Tatum scored a game-high 17 points on 75% shooting (6-8) and grabbed 4 rebounds in his total playing time of 15:44 minutes. He also managed to hit his first three shots from beyond the three-point line and finished the night shooting 60% from deep.
Tatum's impressive scoring night has to be connected to the confidence he showed on the floor, and the green light he seemed to have at all times on the offensive end (something he did not have all of last season in Boston). Throughout the night, he managed to put up a couple of the game's top highlight plays as well, including this spin move to the basket in between two defensive players.
Along with Tatum, Sacramento Kings rising star point guard De'Aaron Fox had a big night backing up Kemba Walker. In his own 15 minutes on the court, Fox totaled 12 points on 66.7% shooting (6-9). He also added 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks to the blue team's final box score, aiding the Team USA training camp senior roster to their 97-78 win over the Team USA select team, team white.
Another Celtic who participated in last night's event was 22-year-old shooting guard Jaylen Brown, who had somewhat of a lackluster night. Playing 11:22 minutes, Brown finished the game with only 2 total points that both came from the free-throw line. In his defensive, he only took one shot attempt from the field and also managed to add a rebound and a couple of steals to his stat sheet.

After the game, Team USA cut senior roster players Thaddeus Young and Bam Adebayo while bringing up select team players Derrick White and Marvin Bagley III. Brown managed to stay aboard the team as they head into the rest of their training camp, so there is still very much a chance for Jaylen to pick himself back up and earn a spot on the final roster before August 17th.
While Jaylen may not have had as big of a night, there are still a whole bunch of positives for the Celtics and their fans to take away from last night's game in Vegas. With Walker and Tatum being arguably the two best players on the Celtics' current roster it's great to see them playing so well together on the same team.

If Walker was able to show anything, it was that his leadership skills are part of not just his game beyond his career in Charlotte, but his personality as well. And as for Tatum, he showed that when he's given the green light, he still has the potential to be one of those unguardable players that can score from literally anywhere on the floor. If he keeps this up, he should solidify his position as the Celtics' definite number two scoring option for next season, if not number one. 
Boston Celtics' participants (left to right) Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker pose for a picture after Team USA practice.  Photo via Ethan Miller 

After the game, Tatum was asked by NBA TV's Kristen Ledlow about how it felt to represent his country on a national, and soon to be worldwide stage. This is what he had to say:
So with Celtics guard Marcus Smart having previously impressed in training camp, Team USA's Celtics participants continue to avoid any major injuries while also shining on the court.

Hopefully, this trend will continue and we will be able to see all four Celtic's representatives play on a worldwide stage of the 2019 FIBA world cup in China this fall. However, while we wait for that, you can check out an entire highlight reel from last night's scrimmage right here.

 

What do you think of both Tatum and Kemba's play in last night's Team USA scrimmage? And what should the Celtics' take away from each player's time with Team USA as we head into next season? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

 You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.

Thomas Desmond 8/10/2019 02:33:00 PM Edit
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