Following and covering a team on a daily basis lends itself to digging deep and mining for nuggets of gold. You brush past the obvious and look for new angles, hidden stories, things that haven’t been covered elsewhere. The downside is occasionally missing the forest for the trees. So sometimes I like to step back and appreciate the obvious. For example: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are really good at basketball and a lot of fun to watch.
Captain Obvious approves this message. With that said, it isn’t something that we should take for granted by any means. Look around the league and you’ll see a lot of teams that would trade their whole roster for two stars like this, just entering their prime.
Let’s go through the admirable qualities, shall we? Both players have developed their offensive games to score at all three levels. They do it in different ways, but not so much that they get in each other’s way (not easy since they are both essentially wings). Both have worked hard on taking care of the ball and finding open teammates — not something they did naturally, but something they needed to take the next step in their development. Both are very strong defenders and know how to play their role within the defensive scheme. Both are quietly taking on more of a leadership role on the team as well, mostly within the framework of their own personalities, but gradually stepping out of comfort zones as well.
After hearing so much about how they “can’t play together,” it has been so fun watching them thrive together. At this point, it is almost like a dance. Jaylen typically takes the lead in the first quarter, driving into the teeth of the defense and softening them up. Tatum takes that extra space and punishes teams from deep. Then they will flip flop, with Tatum attacking the front of the rim or kicking it out to Brown who fires daggers from deep. Try to take away one aspect of their game, they’ll quickly adapt and attack in another way. And when they’ve really got it going, they dictate the action. Forcing defenses to hedge in one direction, setting up the action that they wanted all along in the other direction.
This is next level stuff that takes years of working together to achieve. It requires two high level thinkers with tireless work ethic and a burning desire to be the best at their craft. It requires enough pride to know that they can be the best, but not so much ego that they think they could or should do it by themselves. It also requires them to trust their teammates and allow them to shine in their roles.
I’ll admit, this is all pretty obvious low hanging fruit. But sometimes you miss what’s right in front of you. We often say that this team will go as far as the Jays take them. Well, so far it is looking like they could be taking this team a long way. And that’s not something to take for granted.