BOSTON – This off-season has been a roller coaster for the Boston Celtics. Al Horford left for the Philadelphia 76ers and Kyrie Irving left for the Brooklyn Nets. Players like Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter joined the team. Rookie Tacko Fall became the number one sensation of the team. But one constant on the team has been the “Rainin’ Js.” With all of the churn on the team, there have been some holdovers from last season, and none have been as exciting as Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, both of whom played for the United States national basketball team this off-season.
During this time, Tatum suffered a minor injury, but it does not appear to be anything serious. As such, I feel confident in predicting that, while Walker will make for an excellent addition to the team, Brown and Tatum are actually going to become the true stars. I think they are both primed to make the leap from role players to team leaders and this development will be aided by the presence of Walker instead of Irving.
Last season, Brown started off rocky, but eventually came into his own and ended up averaging 13 points per game on a .465 shooting percentage. Many thought Brown had a major drop-off from the 2017-18 season to the 2018-19 campaign, but his player efficiency rating only dropped from 13.6 to 13.5. He may not have scored as much, but he still managed to prove himself as a dynamic decision-maker on the court, always putting the ball where it most needs to be.
Tatum, on the other hand, is definitely more of a pure scorer who needs a system to thrive in with the Celtics. He complements Brown’s precise knowledge of basketball expertly with the ability to create scoring situations for himself and others on the team. Last year, he improved on his statistical output with 15.7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He proved that the talent is all there for him, if he finds the ability to put it together and make the leap.
Aside from Tatum’s injury, one major concern between these two is that Brown is already making his contractual desires extremely public. Tatum is primed for a maximum contract extension next season, but Brown has stated his desire for a max extension ahead of the October 21 deadline for a player in his third season. If he gets it from Boston, it would be worth $170 million. It seems like way too much to play for Brown, but the question is that if he proves himself to be able to make the leap in the 2019-20 season, then he may successfully court the interest of other teams and Boston would be on the hook for nothing.
Regardless, the Celtics have Tatum and Brown in the wings this year. Contract extension or not, they are primed to have big seasons with the club. It’s time for them to become stars.