Irv­ing: Ta­tum’s devel­op­ment hard to beat

Boston Herald - - BASEBALL SCOREBOARD - By STEPHEN HE­WITT Twit­ter: @steve_he­witt

He may be just 19, but Jayson Ta­tum sure does have some high ex­pec­ta­tions to live up to.

The Celtics rookie was im­pres­sive in the sum­mer league, and the No. 3 over­all pick has seemed to carry that hype into train­ing camp. He’s cer­tainly made an im­pres­sion on the vet­er­ans — Al Hor­ford said this week that Ta­tum is “as ready as I’ve seen any rookie.”

Kyrie Irv­ing said he would agree with that, but he’s not ex­actly sur­prised by Ta­tum’s devel­op­ment con­sid­er­ing his back­ground.

“I would say I’ve seen a few rook­ies come into this league that make a tremen­dous im­pact, but my be­lief has al­ways been, any time you have a few Duke guys com­ing out in the draft, my be­lief al­ways goes to them, be­cause coach (Mike Krzyzewski) does a great job of de­vel­op­ing tal­ent,” said Irv­ing, who played for the Blue Devils in the 2010-11 sea­son. “And then when you have them make that tran­si­tion to the league, it’s a lot eas­ier be­cause of the knowl­edge that he gives you, even if you’re there for a year or two years or four years, so it helps to have that knowl­edge about Jayson be­fore, but also un­der­stand­ing he has the game. It’s good to ex­pe­ri­ence it and see it first­hand.”

Irv­ing noted that Ta­tum’s sit­u­a­tion is unique as a top pick. Un­like Irv­ing, who was drafted No.

1 to a dread­ful Cleve­land Cava­liers team, Ta­tum is join­ing a team that went to the con­fer­ence fi­nals and reloaded in the off­sea­son.

Ta­tum will still be counted on as a rookie, though, which aligns with how top picks like him are usu­ally in­grained into the league. Irv­ing thinks that’s a good thing.

“I could give you a whole bunch of ad­jec­tives to de­scribe Jayson, but the most im­por­tant thing is he’s go­ing through what most guys go through as a rookie, as a top pick in the league,” Irv­ing said. “… He’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be out there but he’s def­i­nitely gotta earn his time, which is what makes or breaks rook­ies in this league or what makes or breaks young guys. …

“He has to learn a lot, but he al­ready has a lot in his game. He’s al­ready ma­tured enough to un­der­stand our lingo out here and just pre­par­ing to be an NBA bas­ket­ball player. He wouldn’t have been a top pick with­out be­ing ahead of his years. So he has that part. Now it’s just un­der­stand­ing the game and slow­ing it down for him. That’s all.”

Chem­istry class

The chem­istry build­ing be­tween Irv­ing and Gor­don Hayward is still a work in progress, but the pos­si­bil­i­ties be­tween them seem end­less, es­pe­cially on the of­fen­sive end. Irv­ing’s eyes lit up yes­ter­day when asked if there are dif­fer­ent plays and sets that seem ready-made for the duo.

But they’re also be­ing pa­tient with each other, and let­ting the chem­istry evolve nat­u­rally. It also seems like Irv­ing wants to be as com­fort­able with Brad Stevens as Hayward is.

“When you watch and ob­serve and then you have a few days to be on the court with (Hayward), you un­der­stand how high his bas­ket­ball IQ is and the un­der­stand­ing that him and Brad have,” Irv­ing said. “They have an un­spo­ken lan­guage al­ready be­tween one an­other, and hav­ing that head coach-player re­la­tion­ship, it’s part of my job to in­te­grate my­self in that as well with not only Brad but the rest of my team­mates and more im­por­tantly Al and Gor­don, to re­ally set the stan­dard on how we want to play this year.”

Hayward de­nied he and Stevens have an un­spo­ken lan­guage with each other, though.

“It helps a lit­tle bit just be­cause we have some fa­mil­iar­ity, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say we have a silent com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” Hayward said. “For me, just try­ing to still ad­just to the sys­tem, ad­just to the way we play here and ad­just to my team­mates.”

Sil­ver’s rest stop?

In an ef­fort to curb teams from rest­ing play­ers in mar­quee games, the NBA de­cided to start two weeks ear­lier this sea­son and sched­ule fewer back-to-backs. Thurs­day, the league passed a rule change that al­lows NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver to fine teams at least $100,000 for rest­ing play­ers for high-pro­file games.

Irv­ing was asked about that change.

“I see you, Adam,” Irv­ing said. “I see you.”

Stevens said he un­der­stands it. “I to­tally get it with the idea of rest­ing play­ers but ob­vi­ously, hope­fully the way that the sched­ule works it­self out for ev­ery­body, it’s a win-win for ev­ery­body,” Stevens said.


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