Jayson Tatum is a key Celtics cog, short & long-term
It is not simply that Jayson Tatum came through with a solid game against the Los Angeles Clippers last night. His 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting, six rebounds and three assists were certainly welcome in the 113-102 win that prevented a five-game losing streak for the Celtics. He was aggressive on offense and looking to create his own shots. He scored from deep, drove to the hoop and made jumpers on the move.
His three assists were probably more notable than his points. Boston has struggled in the playmaking department all season, and that has contributed heavily to their maladies on offense. On one sequence, Tatum drove to the hoop, picked up three defenders and found Aron Baynes for an open two-pointer. He also found Daniel Theis for an open three-pointer.
The Boston Celtics desperately need more playmaking and scoring. Too much of the scoring burden is being placed on Kyrie Irving, and he generally has handled it well. He sinks into hero ball on occasion, and his perception may be that it is necessary. Now past the half-way mark in the season, it may be time for Jayson to continue the offensive aggression he displayed last night against the Clippers. He draws a lot of attention on his outside shots, and particularly on his drives. He needs to work on targeting his teammates for open jumpers and layups. In short, he may be part of the answer for more offensive production.
Jayson Tatum took a career-high 16 shots on Wednesday night and the #Celtics offense got back on track with him showing that aggression. https://t.co/vFcuPU0UH7
Beyond this season, Danny Ainge certainly has to view Tatum as a vital part of the Celtics future success. He earns $5.6 million this year, and $6.7 million next season. He is scheduled to make $7.8 million in 2019-20 and $9.9 million in 2020-21, with both seasons being team options. The four seasons would be a bargain for the Celtics if Tatum fulfills the expectations. I believe Boston's front office values Jayson highly and would only involve him in a trade for a truly-superior talent. I would love to see a breakout from him for the remainder of the season as he becomes a more-integral part of the Celtics offensive attack.
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Photo via Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo
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