The Boston Celtics will have a new-look roster this season following the departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, among others, resulting in an increased role for third-year guard Jayson Tatum.
He’s no stranger to being one of the team’s top scorers, but his productive summer and overall development entering the 2019-20 campaign is a welcomed sign for head coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“I thought the U.S. stuff would benefit all those guys,” Stevens told MassLive’s John Karalis. “But you can really see it with him.
“(He has a) different assertiveness in the right things,” Stevens added, per MassLive. “I think he’s practiced really hard. He’s really made a conscious effort to take the right shots and not be any less aggressive. Like he’s still very aggressive. And then he’s defended… he’s really been active. He’s made nice strides.”
Ainge, on the other hand, noted something that likely is more noticeable off the court: humility.
“I think that Jayson has become more humble, more respectful of just how hard it is to be great,” Ainge said. “He wants to be great. He’s continuing to work really hard but I just sense a better humility and approach to the game.”
Tatum averaged 15.7 points and six rebounds in 79 games for the Celtics during his sophomore campaign. In his first preseason appearance Sunday, he led Boston with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
The efficiency, aggressiveness and composure was there, absent of instances where his old self likely would have settled for long jumpers. These positive developments confirm Stevens and Ainge’s confidence, but time will tell if his progress carries over into the regular season.