Here’s What Makes Jayson Tatum So Appealing To Brad Stevens, Celtics

NEW YORK — Danny Ainge supposedly had a plan in trading away the Boston Celtics’ No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. And it’s quite possible that plan involves Jayson Tatum.

The former Duke star — along with Kansas’ Josh Jackson — figures to be available Thursday when the Celtics pick at No. 3. The Celtics reportedly have their eyes on both players, but only one of the two visited Boston for a workout.

That’d be Tatum, who went through an on-court workout and film session with Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and his staff last week.

“It was very beneficial,” Tatum said Wednesday during NBA draft media availability in New York. “There’s a lot I can learn. We just went over some of my offensive clips from Duke and some things that Boston ran this past season.”

Some believe Tatum has less defensive upside than Jackson, who’s viewed as the more athletic prospect. But the 6-foot-8, 205-pound swingman revealed his defensive flexibility is exactly what attracted the Celtics to him.

“I talked about that with Coach Brad Stevens, and he just said, ‘Guys that are my size and are versatile offensively and defensively, it’s hard not to play those guys,'” Tatum said. “And that’s what we talked about: If you can defend the 1 through the 4, you can knock down open shots and if you can score, that’s a bonus.”

“… So, that’s how he looks at using me if they were to draft me.”

Indeed, today’s NBA has seen an increasing number of “hybrid” players who can play and defend multiple positions. The Celtics have a few of their own: Guard Marcus Smart occasionally has bodied up big men like Kristaps Porzingis, and Jaylen Brown has matched up against smaller guards.

Tatum, who boasts an impressive 7-foot wingspan and a polished offensive game, likely would fit well in Boston’s flexible system, and reports that the team is leaning toward taking him over Jackson at No. 3 bear that out. Of course, the Duke product also has other reasons for wanting to join the C’s.

“If I get drafted by the Celtics, one of the top franchises in NBA basketball — they have a great team,” Tatum said. “So, I’ll go in and be able to learn from a lot of true professionals that they have on their team.”

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images

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