Tacko Fall is far more than just a marketing ploy.
It’s no surprise the 7-foot-5 center has become popular among Celtics fans since landing with Boston as an undrafted free agent, as he towers above his peers, he has an awesome name and you’re unlikely to hear anything negative about the 23-year-old as a person. But Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge never expected “Tackomania” to reach its current level.
“I quite honestly didn?t anticipate that,” Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich.” “It started in the summer league, and he is unique. He?s a player that I think has a good upside and we?re excited about helping him to reach his goal of getting to the NBA and being a winning and contributing player.”
Fall took a significant step toward achieving his dream of playing in the NBA this past weekend when the Celtics converted his Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way deal that allows him to spend up to 45 days with Boston this season. He otherwise will spend most of his time with the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s G League affiliate.
This doesn’t guarantee anything, especially since Fall still needs to improve certain areas of his game before jumping to The Association. But Ainge can’t help but be encouraged by the progress Fall has made in such a short time. He just hopes everyone will be patient amid Fall’s development, calling it a “fun project for everybody” thanks to the rookie’s on-court potential, positive attitude and infectious personality.
“I worry that expectations are too high, too soon for a player like Tacko, who has a long way to go,” Ainge said. “But the reason Tacko wasn?t drafted out of college was because he didn?t really fit the NBA?s game style of up and down and faster, but he made great strides from the time that we saw him in college to the time that we saw him in the summer league. He had lost some weight and he was moving so much better, and we?re trying to help him move even better and think quicker, and I think that he?s a player that is a fun project for everybody. Not because he?s 7-foot-7 — that?s why he has a lot of potential — but he?s just such a great human being. I think he?s everybody?s favorite teammate. He?s just such a nice kid. I?m very excited, and we have great coaching up in Portland, Maine, and I think he?s gonna get some real opportunities to develop this year.”
Fall’s size obviously is intriguing. His monstrous frame alone could make him useful in certain situations, like late-game inbounds plays. But why limit the big man to such a small role, especially when there’s seemingly untapped potential?
?Tacko could be on a team and play a very small role right now, but we?re trying to help him become a more meaningful player — a player that is not just a specialist, (but) that can play a complete game,” Ainge said. “I?ve been very impressed by his work ethic, his character, his desire, and like I said, he?s a great person that everybody — every coach, every player, every staff member that he associates with — wants to see him succeed. That?s a pretty smart kid right there, getting to get to that position where you have that kind of character that gives you so much better chance of developing into the player that you want to be.?
From taco jokes to breathtaking photos, the rise of Fall sure has been fun. And the good times stand to last a little longer, so long as he continues on his current trajectory within an organization that clearly has faith in his long-term NBA future.