How Kevin Durant Could Help Jayson Tatum Thrive


If you’re a Boston Celtics fan, your world is probably in freefall right now. This is what happens when credible rumors surface about the possibility of trading for a superstar, especially when it also means losing two of your team’s best players.

Everyone will have their own feelings on whether or not the Celtics should go through with this deal, and I’m not here to convince you one way or the other. However, I’m curious what Kevin Durant’s arrival could mean for Jayson Tatum.


Indulge me a little here.

There’s no doubt that Tatum has evolved as a player over the past twelve months, particularly in the way he orchestrates an attack and sets the table for his teammates. We also saw the St. Louis native adopt a more physical brand of basketball and finally start using his ever-growing frame to dislodge defenders. Tatum is developing an average streak.

Yet despite his ever-increasing control of the game and balance on the ball, there are times when the defense overloads Tatum, sometimes to their detriment given Jaylen Brown’s scoring ability. But, as we know, teams will do anything to get the ball out of the star player’s hands.

That wouldn’t happen with Durant on the court, though.

Chances are, even if Durant joins the Celtics, Tatum will still be the primary ball handler in half-court situations, or at least he’ll share the responsibility with KD. He’s improved too much to take the ball out of his hands now.

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So the opposing defenses are going to get in a tough spot because you don’t help a future Hall of Famer in the first round, no matter who has the rock. You don’t hedge your bets that Tatum doesn’t make the pass, or spot the rotation, not when the recipient is Durant.

As such, it’s safe to assume that Tatum will see a lot more daylight in this scenario, especially on the perimeter, before his training has forced a defensive collapse. Less defensive pressure means more time to make the right read or find the right spot. And above all, less chance of being accelerated.

On the other hand, Durant’s scoring gravity will ensure that Tatum always has room to operate off the ball, whether as a cutter, screener, popper or even roll-man. You see, Durant’s arrival would take Boston’s offense from egalitarian to heliocentric, with Tatum and Durant taking turns being the sun around which everything else revolves.

Suddenly, Tatum is no longer the clear primary offensive option, but would instead take on Brown’s role as a supporting star – allowing his decision-making to feel more natural, rather than forcing things when the defense slumps. bogged down in the rhythm of Boston. There’s less pressure to ‘fetch a bucket’ or ‘force the defense into making a mistake’ – that would be Durant’s job, something he thrives on.

Beyond simply reducing defensive pressure on Tatum, Durant’s arrival would also benefit the young star from a development perspective. We’ve all heard the stories from Team USA’s gold medal run at the Olympics last season, of how Durant encouraged Tatum to be the best version of himself and trust in his abilities. .

For years, Tatum and Brown built on each other, through encouragement and fierce competition. But neither of them have Durant’s resume, so when he empowers you, it must be liberating.

“I remember being there in Vegas, the first day we mingled. And I remember we played the selection team. Kicked our a** on day one. We weren’t in good shape. But I remember falling on the wing, someone kicked the ball at me, and on the Celtics, I would have shot it. And it felt like I could have shot halfway. I just remember KD was on my right I passed him. I remembered that he got mad at me. He was like ‘Yo, don’t look at me. Be yourself, I need you to kill. And I was like ‘fuck it.’ It was the first time I was like, ‘He wants me to hoop too.’ Don’t look at him like it’s KD, we’re on the same team – like, he needs me to get me on this team,” Tatum said during an interview on The Draymond Green Show.

Can you imagine a Tatum who was freed from the expectations that come with being the guy? The freedom with which he will play? All while watching and learning from Durant – his daily training regiment, his pre-game and post-game routine and his off-season development programs. Iron sharpens iron, and there aren’t many sharper than the Washington native.

I mean, just take how much Robert Williams and Grant Williams have been credited with being around Al Horford on a daily basis, and the lessons they learned from the opportunity – that’s what Durant would be for Tatum. He is the Dumbledore of Tatum’s Harry Potter.

Of course, any trade for Durant will be judged on championship rings and whether the superstar actually honors the remaining four years of his contract. But beyond the obvious there’s a subplot, one that could see Tatum become a superstar in his own right, waiting to reclaim his place as Boston’s alpha dog, except when that happens, we won’t be waiting. not that he takes the The next stepbecause it would have already happened.

I’m not trying to convince anyone that this potential deal is good or bad. Heck, I don’t even know how I feel about it right now. But there’s a world where the benefits extend beyond the court, and that’s something that could be hugely exciting while we wait for Tatum to complete his transformation into an indisputable superstar.