Jayson Tatum was one of the young players who helped the Boston Celtics finish as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and reach the Eastern Conference finals, despite losing Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to season-ending injuries. His impressive performance on both ends of the floor was the major reason why he became one of the front-runners to win the Rookie of the Year award. In the 80 games he played, the 20-year-old small forward averaged 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steal on 47.5 percent shooting from the field, and 43.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Jayson Tatum has definitely done a good job in his first season in the NBA, and as of now, there is no doubt that he is taking the path to becoming a superstar in the league. Now that Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are 100 percent healthy, the Celtics are expected to become a more dangerous team next season. So far, the Celtics are emerging as the favorite to become the new ruler of the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference.
However, Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens will need to make a tough decision regarding his rotation. The return of Irving and Hayward will force some of the young players to come off the bench and receive lesser playing time. Jayson Tatum doesn’t seem to have any problem making a huge sacrifice for the Celtics, as long as it can help them win the NBA championship.
Jayson Tatum expressed his willingness to accept a bench role if needed. He also said that every one of them should set aside their individual goals and keep their focus on what they want to accomplish as a team.
“Everybody has a job to do,” Tatum said, via Boston Globe. “Our job is to be the best versions of ourselves and come together for a bigger goal, which is winning a championship. Brad’s job is to manage playing time and manage all sorts of stuff. That’s why he’s the coach. We got a bunch of selfless guys on the team that just want to win. We’ll figure it out.”
As of now, it is more likely that Jayson Tatum will be on the Celtics’ starting lineup next season. If there is a young player who is expected to return to the bench, it will be Terry Rozier, who will be Kyrie Irving’s primary backup. Brad Stevens is expected to use a starting lineup featuring Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Tatum, and Al Horford.