So far this preseason, we have seen a variety of different rotations and player pairings. The last two games, we have seen a glimpse of what the future might look like. Jaylen Brown has started all three games so far, but Jayson Tatum has joined him in the last two. Monday night had a lot to do with rest, but on Friday nobody was resting and they started with the new Big Three. Could this be the lineup that hangs Banner 18 somewhere down the road? Preseason is a time to look at different things to see what works and who plays well together. Stevens is looking into the future with this lineup.
Jaylen Brown took Jayson Tatum under his wing during Summer League. By the end of the first practice they were already pushing each other to get better. They are both number-three overall picks from the last two drafts. Brown is ready to show Tatum the path through his rookie year, having just been through it himself. Tatum can use the guidance, often looking like a wide-eyed rookie seeking answers off the court. On the court, though, he has the confidence of a veteran. He is still working through some kinks, but he can play at a high level. So when will he join the starting ranks, as Brown looks to do this season? The chemistry of these two will be pivotal to this team going forward.
MAKING IT WORK
On the court, there is still a lot of work to be done for these two. The biggest adjustment for each will be playing with other great scorers that are better equipped to get buckets. It’s going to be a challenge to defer as much as they’ll have to do as starters. We might not see Tatum in the starting lineup this season because of this. He is the best scorer in the second unit, but he won’t need to score with the first team. His coach did give him a vote of confidence recently, saying he is “beyond his years defensively.” This could earn him minutes with the first team.
Brown will have an interesting time trying to fit in. If he focuses on defense first, everything should work itself out. He won’t be able to take the ball and drive as much as he would like. Offensively, he will probably be the last option with the first unit. Improving his cuts and movement without the ball should be priority. The other starters all see the court and pass really well. He must take advantage of this to be effective on offense.
Perhaps even more important than fitting in with the others, though, is fitting in with each other. These guys aren’t even 21 yet, and will more than likely be with the Celtics for a long time. They could both be here well after the Big Three break up, still keeping the Celtics at the top of the league as the leaders of the team somewhere down the road. It’s tough to think this far ahead, but when you see the potential of these two players, you almost have to project it out like that.
Tatum and Brown haven’t shown much on-court chemistry thus far, but have become great friends off the court in a few short months. It is only a matter of time before we see this chemistry bleed onto the court. When it does, Tatum will be pushing hard for a starting job. We will see the Celtics trying to balance between winning now and building something that can win for a long time this season. Brown is expected to start this season despite probably not being the most talented immediate option. It is going to be frustrating at times, but player development is still the Number One priority for the C’s this year. They must focus on developing these two especially so they can sustain their success into the foreseeable future.
ONE MORE PRESEASON GAME
With only one preseason game left, hopefully these two get to start together again to build more on-court chemistry. I would expect the Big Three to play, with this game the last chance to build together before the season. Terry looked great on Monday, so it would be nice to see him have another promising performance. Unfortunately Aron Baynes went down with a left knee sprain, so we will need the few backup bigs we have in Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele to step up and be ready at the start of the season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a big man get signed in the next week.