Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports

Jayson Tatum knows Celtics need him to provide immediate impact

Ty Anderson
September 27, 2017 - 3:51 pm

Jayson Tatum, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, has yet to play an NBA game, but he’s clearly become a huge hit with his Celtics teammates.

Kyrie Irving, who has worked with Tatum this summer, called him a “bad dude.” When asked if that was true, the 19-year-old Tatum replied, “Some days, some days.”

But Tatum’s first friend with the Celtics, NBA Summer League Jaylen Brown, knows just how great Tatum can become for the Celtics, and with them pushing one another.

"That's my guy, man," Brown said of Tatum.

"Super talented, fun to be around, and it's a pleasure. The sky is the limit for [Tatum], everybody knows that. What we do, we push each other. We push each other to be great. That's what people expect from us, that's what we we expect from ourselves,” Brown said. “And things like that, [we] just try to get better each and everyday. I think he's a tremendous talent, great guy to work with since he's been here. And he has a similar mindset to me so I can appreciate that. He just wants to get better and be great."

“He’s only one year older than me,” Tatum said when asked of his connection with Brown, a fellow third overall pick. “We’ve been roommates before at All-American camps. We’ve known each other for years, and I guess that’s where the relationship started. We’re neighbors [at our lockers]. We’re always with each other.”

But the neighborly Brown is not the only one pushing the 6-foot-8 Tatum to be better.

“It’s been great having Al [Horford] back, Kyrie [Irving], Gordon [Hayward], everybody,” Tatum said. “There’s a lot of things without them saying anything — just how they approach workouts, their demeanor and things like that, they just lead by example.

“I know there’s a lot of things I’m not so great at, and a lot of things I need to get better at,” Tatum continued. “Everyday in workouts [Celtics coach Brad Stevens is] always there, watching me and telling me what I can do better.”

And while not yet considered the most imposing figure (Tatum will certainly need to add some muscle to his frame if he’s going to develop into a formidable defensive presence in Stevens’ system), it’s clear what the Celtics are going to expect -- at least out of the gate -- out of the obviously sponge-like Tatum entering his rookie season.

Averaging 18.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest in the Summer League this past summer, and shooting a combined 41-for-92 (a 44.6 field goal percentage) over that span, the top-heavy C’s team that gutted almost everything off their 2016-17 roster this past summer will clearly need to find a secondary scoring role for Tatum.

It’s a role and need that Brown believes Tatum can immediately fill, too.

"I think scoring the ball is something that [Tatum] does easy, and I think we're going to need that," Brown acknowledged. “I think Jayson's athleticism and his versatility, being able to guard multiple positions and things like that, are going to be impressive as well. And his length, when we start getting deep into the playoffs, we're going to need that."

Admitting that there’s pressure of joining such a historic franchise and living up to the expectations of his teammates in what should be a long first NBA season, Tatum’s biggest and final pre-career takeaway from his teammates has been a simple one.

“One thing [Brown] told is to always be ready when my number is called,” said Tatum.

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