BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA has evolved into something of a “positionless” league in recent years, where most players are not necessarily defined as one of the five traditional positions on the court. The Celtics’ newest dynamic rookie, No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum, is a fine example of that.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about the NBA’s recent evolution and the call for more versatility among players in Salt Lake City, where Celtics summer league ball is currently taking place. He is touting Tatum as a positionless player who will bring plenty of versatility to the Celtics lineup.
“Tatum will play wherever,” Stevens said, via the Associated Press‘ Kareem Copeland and Tim Reynolds. “He can handle the ball. He can move it. … He’s at least a wing because he can really handle the ball, too. And he can shoot it and do all those things. He’s a very versatile player.”
Stevens touted his Celtics system as more of a three-position game than five.
“I don’t have the five positions anymore,” said Stevens. “It may be as simple as three positions now, where you’re either a ball-handler, a wing or a big. … We’ve become more versatile as the years have gone on.”
Standing at 6-foot-8, Tatum could be used as a tall wing player or an undersized big. The Celtics’ signing of Gordon Hayward has raised concerns that he creates a logjam at the small forward spot with Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Jae Crowder (for now), but Stevens obviously isn’t looking at it that way. There could even be scenarios where all three are on the floor at the same time.
It remains to be seen how Tatum will perform against NBA competition in his rookie year, but he has dazzled so far in summer league action. He particularly shined on Wednesday night, finishing with 23 points and 10 rebounds.