BOSTON (CBS) — Even before the Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in June, his offensive game was drawing comparisons to a Boston great.
The offensive repertoire he showcased in his one season at Duke gave pundits flashbacks of Paul Pierce’s game, a comparison that has made Celtics fans even more eager to see what the 19-year-old can do in the NBA.
You can add Pierce, who will have his No. 34 retired by the Celtics later this season, to that group. He may even be a little more amped up about Tatum’s future in green. In a recent interview with CSNNE’s A. Sherrod Blakely, Pierce said that Tatum’s offensive attack is better than his was when he came into the league.
Quite the glowing appraisal from a 10-time NBA All-Star and Finals MVP.
“He looks like an older version of me, when I started doing the step-back and stuff,” Pierce told Blakely. “When I’m watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like sixth, seventh, eighth year. He sees the defense. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He understands his position, footwork, his step-back (jumper) is there. His offensive repertoire seems complete.
“The sky is the limit for that kid,” Pierce added.
In addition to that veteran-like step-back, Pierce says he also sees the mentality of a winner in Tatum.
“The thing I see, what makes the guy special, there’s a lot of talent in the league. There’s no question about it. Your mentality, your drive, how great you want to be, that’s what separates the good from the great ones,” said Pierce. “You look at guys from the past, like Kobe (Bryant’s) determination, his competitive spirit. You see guys that were just as talented, they didn’t have the same competitive spirit so they could not reach the levels of other greats.”
Time will tell if Tatum is Pierce 2.0, but it certainly sounds like “The Truth” is expecting the kid to have a number of signature moments for the Celtics over the years.