Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum understands team goals are more important than individual ones, so it’s no surprise to learn that coming off the bench next season would not bother him.
“I understand how deep our team is,” Tatum recently told Nicole Yang of Boston.com. “I just care about winning and doing what I can while I’m on the floor.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens arguably has the deepest roster in the NBA entering next month’s training camp. In fact, the Celtics’ best bench lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes likely would give many starting fives a stiff challenge.
Tatum isn’t worried about the Celtics getting upset over playing time, though, despite the team’s abundance of players worthy of sizable minutes.
“Everybody has a job to do,” Tatum said, per Yang. “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.”
Tatum’s willingness to come off the bench should be applauded, but the best decision for the C’s is to have him in the starting lineup, like he was for all 80 regular-season and 19 playoff games he played during his rookie campaign.
The Duke product started at power forward on Opening Night last season, alongside Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Stevens probably will use that same lineup to start most games this season, since it features the team’s five best players and presents matchup problems for opponents on defense.
It’s quite possible that Tatum’s role will decrease now that Irving and Hayward — two 20-point scorers and primary ball-handlers — are healthy again, but coming off the bench doesn’t really make a whole of sense for him, unless he struggles mightily in Year 2 and that doesn’t seem likely.
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