The Boston Celtics struck gold in the 2017 NBA Draft, as they moved down to No. 3 and selected Duke wing Jayson Tatum. While he was expected to be a solid scorer, no one expected Tatum to be as good as he’s been for the Celtics this postseason. Tatum is averaging 18.8 points per game during the playoffs, the scoring average for anyone in the green and white.
The easy comparison for Tatum — a gifted, advanced, and technically sound wing scorer — coming out of college was Paul Pierce, and that as amplified as he ended up in Boston. Obviously that seemed a bit unfair at first, because comparing a teenager to a future Hall of Fame inductee is a high bar, but Tatum has shown flashes of backing that up.
Among the list of people who think this is an appropriate comparison is Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. He’s really familiar with Tatum’s game, as the two are cousins. Dave McMenain of ESPN wrote a story about their relationship, which included Lue showering praise upon his cousin’s game.
“As a little kid he was fast, but I think as he got taller it slowed him down a little bit,” Lue told ESPN. “I think that has helped his game a lot. He’s never in a rush, he plays patiently and reminds me a lot of Paul Pierce when Paul first came out. Being able to get to the free throw line, great footwork, never gets sped up offensively so he’s a really good player.”
Lue and the Cavs will have to figure out how to deal with Tatum’s Pierce-esque game in the Eastern Conference Finals. It very well could be one of the things that decides who makes it to the NBA Finals, but far more importantly, family bragging rights are on the line.