Irving: Tatum’s development hard to beat
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.”
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.