Ever since Paul Pierce’s departure, the Celtics have been looking for a scoring wing. They’ve tried Jeff Green and that didn’t work. Jae Crowder has been one of the best 3&D guys in the league, but doesn’t have a dynamic arsenal on the offensive end. Last night, as we all waited to hear about Gordon Hayward’s free agency decision, the Celtics may have showcased two wings that might just end up being the future at that position anyway: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
Brown finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Brown looked even more polished than he did at the end of his rookie season; with an array of spin moves, Euro steps, and fancy footwork, he was clearly the best player on the floor. After the game, Brown said that “on this team, my job is to be a playmaker.” He’s not there yet, but look how far he’s come in such a short amount of time already. He had zero assists with seven turnovers and his handle is still pretty loose, but you can tell that the game has slowed down for him and he’s able to now change speeds and use his athleticism in bursts rather than playing at 120% all the time.
Compared to Brown, Tatum did more in the half court. Off of dribble hand offs from above the break or high post looks, the 19-year-old’s 6’8 frame and 7’0 wingspan were a problem for Philadelphia. He was considered the most talented scorer in the draft and proved it with 21-7-3 and five steals in his debut. What was impressive with Tatum was the variety of his game: he mixed in a Dirk Nowitzki, off-the-wrong-foot fadeaway, a corner pocket three, and a face up, rip through drive and dunk all in the first half.
If Brown and Tatum can score effectively from the wing, they’ll provide a wrinkle in Brad Stevens’ offense that wasn’t consistently there last season. Really, how much could the team depend on Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder or Jonas Jerebko coming off those pin down screens or DHO’s, turning the corner, and putting pressure on the defense? With Jaylen’s furthering development and by bringing Tatum into the fold, that’s two athletic swing men that can work off the ball with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford.