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Shane Larkin thinks Jayson Tatum can be a top five player in the NBA

Larkin spoke to the Boston Globe about the Celtics phenom.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe spoke to guard Shane Larkin about Jayson Tatum’s rookie season with the Boston Celtics and his future in the NBA.

Larkin is unlikely to be on the Celtics roster during the 2018-19 season, but that didn’t keep the guard from praising his former locker-mate.

“Defensively, he’s very smart. He’s always in the right place, and he’s still going to continue to get better and grow and get smarter. ... And I think with the skill set he already has, he can easily be one of the top five players in the league if he continues to work and lock in and really devote himself to the game. So I’m really excited to see where he goes.”

Despite noting that Tatum could be one of the league’s top players, Larkin said that the Duke product has “room to grow” even with his lack of weaknesses. This is a terrifying thought for opponents who struggled to contain Tatum last season.

The idea of Tatum progressing and improving becomes much more interesting when you think about the Celtics revamped 2018-19 roster. With Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward returning at full strength, Tatum could very well have a different role this coming season. So what does that mean for Tatum’s development? Some may worry that it will hinder his progress, but I’m not so sure that’s the case.

Larkin briefly hinted at Tatum’s off-ball involvement, which is something we should focus on. No, we may not see a spike in Tatum’s scoring from his rookie campaign to sophomore season, but playing alongside Hayward and Irving presents some interesting opportunities for the Celtics young star. Tatum will be able to work more on his off-ball game, while remaining active while other ball-handlers are on the floor with him. This is something that the rookie wasn’t always able to do after Irving went down. Granted, Tatum thrived late in the season, but now he’ll be able to focus on improving his off ball activity, which is an area where many young players seem to struggle.

Jayson Tatum is so talented and will naturally progress as next year goes on, but it could very well be in different areas then we saw during the 2017-18 season. Either way, Shane Larkin is confident that Tatum can be a star in this league for year’s to come.