Jayson Tatum has proven he can carry a team, but the key to his future success might center around lightening his workload.
That’s the crux of the insight former Celtics and Phoenix Suns executive Ryan McDonough offered Monday during his appearance on WEEI’s “Mut at Night.” McDonough believes Tatum will help Boston attract fellow stars if he demonstrates an increased willingness to involve his teammates in the game, instead of relying simply on his own talent.
“I think the next step in Tatum’s game — and I am sure he’s aware of this, he’s a smart guy — is not being so iso-heavy, not being so ball-dominant,” McDonough said. “He’s a gifted scorer, one of the most gifted scorers I have seen come into the league in a number of years. I think the next step for him will probably be trusting his teammates, trusting the pass, moving the ball and getting it back. Trying to be more efficient without the ball and with his shots. Then, if he can do that, which I have no doubt he will be able to do it if he wants to given his talent, then other guys will want to come play with him.”
McDonough compared Tatum’s play with the Celtics to that of Suns star Devin Booker.
“We had Devin Booker when I was the GM with the Suns, Devin had a lot of similarities to Jayson early in his career,” McDonough said. “This year you could say some of it is due to Chris Paul, which I think it is, but he moves the ball and moves without the ball more and gets it back. He has thrived in that role.
“I have no doubt Tatum can do something similar, and if and when he does that I think he will be a very attractive guy to play with because he’s one of the best young talents in the entire NBA.”
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens confirmed Monday he’ll shape Boston’s roster to maximize the talents of Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Stevens probably will have an easier time of doing that if potential Celtics newcomers see Tatum committed to making sure they’ll be able to showcase their own talents when they join the team.
The Celtics are poised to have lots of room under the salary cap next summer. Should Tatum heed McDonough’s advice in the 2021-22 season, the following offseason might prove fruitful for years to come.