Add Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue to the list of people who see a little bit of Paul Pierce in Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum.
The comparison has been made countless times by countless talking heads since the Celtics selected Tatum with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and Lue added to the conversation this week ahead of Cleveland’s Eastern Conference finals series against Boston.
“As a little kid he was fast, but I think as he got taller it slowed him down a little bit,” Lue told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “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 is close with Tatum. They’re cousins — Lue and Tatum’s father, Justin, are cousins on Lue’s grandfather’s side of the family, the Cavs coach told McMenamin — and have been spending time together ever since Tatum was a kid.
And Lue also is very familiar with Pierce, having spent time in the Celtics organization as a coach, starting in 2009, when “The Truth” still was in the midst of his memorable run with Boston.
So maybe we should lend more credence to Lue’s assessment, although Tatum’s first season with the Celtics speaks for itself. The 20-year-old really has shown a scoring touch reminiscent of Pierce’s heyday. Not to mention, Tatum has shown a killer instinct in the playoffs.
“He’s not scared, he’s not afraid and he’s always been that type of kid,” Lue told McMenamin. “He wants these type of moments and he’s taking advantage of it. With Kyrie (Irving) and Gordon (Hayward) going down and him having a chance to play the minutes he’s been playing, starting and playing in the playoffs the way he has, he’s taken full advantage of it. But he’s never been scared, he’s never been afraid of the big moment. You can see that.”
Sounds a lot like No. 34, no?
Thumbnail photo via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports Images
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