We’re not sure how anybody who watched Sunday’s Celtics-Lakers game could have any takeaway other than Boston is a legitimate threat to make the NBA Finals and that Jayson Tatum already is a star.
Alas, Nick Wright on Monday found a way to throw subtle shade at both Boston and its All-Star forward.
Boston suffered a 114-112 loss to Los Angeles in a game that might have been an NBA Finals preview. (Obviously, the Milwaukee Bucks are the Eastern Conference’s best team until someone proves otherwise.)
Despite huge games from Anthony Davis and LeBron James, it was Tatum who had the basketball world talking, as the 21-year-old racked up 41 points to go along with five rebounds and two assists. It was the kind of performance that should make Celtics fans confident that Boston has found its new franchise player.
Still, Wright spewed this nonsense during Monday’s episode of “First Things First” on FS1:
“Jayson Tatum was sensational, and good for him,” Wright said. ” … He continues to be a guy that looks like one day could be one of the 15 best players in basketball. Maybe one day be one of the 10 best players in basketball. He’s not yet a star, but he’s trending that way.
” … The Celtics are a really good team, an overachieving team. That is exactly where they are most comfortable the last 30 years if they don’t have Kevin Garnett: overachieving with a defined ceiling.”
"The Lakers have the best player in the conference by a mile, the DPOY, probably, the best record in the conference by a mile, the best closer in all of basketball by a mile. LeBron & AD had 61 combined points. I don't know what there is not to be impressed with." —@getnickwright pic.twitter.com/S5xWeDOOiV
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) February 24, 2020
If you’re familiar with Wright’s Celtics-hating ways, you know what he was doing there. He repeated what he’s been saying for two years: the Celtics are meh and Tatum doesn’t project as an elite NBA player. More clearly, he downplayed all the Celtics have accomplished over the last three decades.
If you want to say Tatum never will be in, say, Paul George’s category, go right ahead. If you want to say the Celtics, like most NBA franchises who struggle to lure superstars away from Miami, Los Angeles and Golden State, basically have been useless since the 1990s, go off. We would disagree on both points, but whatever.
However, it’s Wright’s assertion the current Celtics are nothing more than overachievers that truly is next-level stupid.
The Celtics have an All-NBA point guard (Kemba Walker), a former All-Star forward who is only 29 years old and remains an excellent player (Gordon Hayward) and a pair of top-three draft picks (Tatum and Jaylen Brown) who suddenly look like All-Star caliber wings. In the case of Tatum, he already is an All-Star and has emerged as Boston’s undisputed No. 1 scoring option.
Moreover, the Celtics have one of the best defensive guards in the game (Marcus Smart), a legitimately good, not great, floor-spacing big man (Daniel Theis) and an excellent rebounder (Enes Kanter). They also have one of the best coaches in basketball (Brad Stevens), though the true influence of an NBA coach remains up for debate.
Sure, Boston’s bench is pretty bad, and the Celtics certainly could use a player capable of defending Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo in the playoffs, if such a player even exists. Maybe Robert Williams is capable of doing some of that, but he’s yet to prove it.
Still, given all the positives, how could anyone seriously suggest the Celtics are “overachieving?”
The reality is the Celtics are the second-best team in the East (sorry, Toronto) and have a real shot at making the NBA Finals.