I hope all is well. Your strides on and off the court have been amazing to see and you’re probably the first player that my parents knew because of your appearance on Bloomberg. Your ability to tackle some of our country’s biggest issues while maintaining the charm of a 22 year-old has made you one of the most popular players on the team.
One of the best things about watching your growth as a player is your commitment to be better. You can take critiques of your game constructively and you focus your workouts on addressing that point, rather than only sharpening your strengths. Your improvements as a defender and a shooter and your flashes as a ball handler allowed us to see the foundation of your all-star potential.
This summer was all about learning how to be a better playmaker, a skill that many believe is a key separator between elite wings and starter-level wings. It doesn’t necessarily mean averaging a bunch of assists, but rather being able to read post coverages and getting penetration while keeping your head up to find shooters. That, along with your shooting ability, could take your game to another level.
But so far, this year has been pretty weird. With guys coming back in the rotation, roles have been in flux for the first couple of months. One minute you’re playing 39 minutes, the next minute you’re playing 19. The instability of roles seems to have lead to the team struggling as a whole, including you.
I thought you made a really interesting observation when you said that guys are trying to balance what’s best for the team and what’s best for their families. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. When people bring up the best players in the league or discuss Hall of Fame potential, they always start with individual accolades. But with the team in Boston, there are just so many talented guys that the only way to reach your potential is to sacrifice more traditional ways of attaining accolades in order for the team to achieve at the highest level.
If anyone knows that, it’s you. You’ve been to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals and with that you have the notoriety that players in your class who might put up more counting stats don’t. You got to this point because of your F.C.H.W (Faith, Consistency, Hard Work) and it’s been P.O. (Paying Off).
This season may not be the chance to showcase everything you can do, but it is the chance to showcase your value on a contending team. This summer, I labeled you our most important young player because your defensive versatility and ability to stretch the floor worked extremely well playing off guys like Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford. With all the eyes on this team you have the opportunity to score some of the easiest baskets of your life and put the world on notice of how strong of a defender you are. There’s no reason you can’t challenge for one of the All-Defensive teams and it won’t take long for the world to realize last season wasn’t an aberration.
Maybe you come off the bench, maybe you start, who cares. You’ll be finishing games when it matters and you know that. Doc Rivers used to tell players to be stars in their roles, and you don’t need to look any further than the defending champion Golden State Warriors. They all play a role and sacrifice for the team and with that came the All-NBA nods, All-Star game appearances, All-Defensive teams, MVP’s, etc.
These Celtics can be next, but it all starts with guys accepting that what’s best for the team can be what’s best for their families as well, and I think you have the most to gain from adopting that mindset.
During the Players Tech Summit in San Francisco you made a great point of mentioning that your body was like an early investment. Right now, you’re in Series-C funding. You’ve already shown a proof of concept and are profitable and now you’re looking for a greater market share or to get back to basketball concepts, a more stronger foothold amongst the league’s best. The best thing about our basketball society today is that you can do that while putting the team first as guys like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and others that play your position have shown.
I wish you the best as you continue finding where you fit into this puzzle and I can’t wait for you to experience the dividends of your sacrifices.
Just another fan