Don’t Overcomplicate It

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown make up one of the best wing duo’s in the league, but Danny Ainge needs to let them flourish.

Header made by Mars Robinson

Jayson Tatum is only 21 years old and finished his third season with averages of 23.4 PPG, 3.0 APG & 7.0 RPG. He was an All-Star for the first time in his career as well. His teammate Jaylen Brown, is 24 years old and finished his fourth season with averages of 20.3 PPG, 2.1 APG & 6.4 RPG.

Danny Ainge and the Celtics struck gold (no pun intended) with the selections of these two via draft. In 2016 the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown after they landed the 3rd pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, which came from a trade with the Brooklyn Nets…. yep, that trade. In 2017 the Celtics landed the first overall pick in the draft, but traded the pick for Philadelphia’s 3rd pick and then proceeded to draft Jayson Tatum out of Duke University.

In this short time Both Jaylen and Jayson have become two of the best young players in the league, and in their short careers they have already made two Eastern Conference Finals appearances.

Now we as basketball fans give Danny Ainge a lot of credit for the moves that he’s made as General Manager of the Celtics, but he has made some questionable moves too and if he continues, it’ll negatively affect Jaylen and Jayson’s success.

Trading Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving back in 2017 and then signing Gordon Hayward to a max deal sounded like a great idea at first. Irving who was coming off his third straight finals appearance (won in 2016) was looking to be the “man” of his own team. While Gordon Hayward, was coming off of the best season of his career with the Utah Jazz. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his career and finished that season with averages of 21.9 PPG, 3.5 APG & 5.4 RPG.

The Celtics would ultimately rely on Kyrie and Gordon to lead this team while young players like Jaylen and Jayson would eventually get better. Unfortunately, Hayward would suffer a season ending injury on opening night of his Celtics debut against Cleveland and after 60 games, Kyrie would need knee surgery. The Celtics however would finish the season 2nd in the Eastern Conference with a 55-27 record.

In the playoffs that followed, we would be formally introduced to the young Celtic stars that would takeover rather quickly in Boston. In the 2018 playoffs Jaylen Brown averaged 18.0 PPG on 46/39/64 shooting splits. Jayson “HE’S ONLY 19” Tatum would average 18.5 PPG on 47/32/84 shooting splits. The Celtics lead by these young studs would go all the way to the ECFs where they would lose in seven to LeBron and the Cavs. Regardless of how bad that Cavs team was, taking LeBron to seven games while only being 19 and 21 in the Eastern Conference Finals is beyond impressive.

The following playoffs the numbers that Jayson and Jaylen had the year prior would drop with Kyrie healthy. Throughout that entire season leading up to the playoffs questions about Kyrie’s free agency decision would be brought up over and over again. At one point Kyrie told Celtics fans that he would re-sign, but of course that didn’t happen. Kyrie would also struggle in the playoffs against the Bucks which lead to Boston being sent home in 5 games.

While Hayward continued to work his way back from such a gruesome injury and get back to form, Jayson and Jaylen’s improvement became the focal point for almost everyone. With Kyrie officially gone and with Gordon not yet himself although he was playing, it was clear that the Celtics belonged to Tatum and Brown.

The Celtics would eventually make their way back to the ECFs in 2020 after stellar seasons from J&J. But would be eliminated in six games by the Miami Heat. This path for Tatum and Brown hasn’t been easy, with Ainge wanting to trade for AD a few years back, along with the signing of Hayward who hasn’t lived up to his contract due to injury, and of course Kyrie’s short stint. Boston fans realize the potential that Tatum and Brown have. And with them being so young, but literally knocking on the door of the NBA Finals it has to be frustrating knowing that Ainge will probably continue to make moves without letting them grow as talented young players.

The best thing that Ainge can do this offseason is to not overcomplicate it. Gordon Hayward is due over $34M next season, IF he opts into his player option. The Celtics NEED a big and with the Pacers interested, Ainge should probably look into trading for Myles Turner. All in all I think the Celtics are doing a helluva job and if they keep Tatum and Brown together, they will probably make a Finals trip in the near future.



Freelance NBA writer and host of NBA podcast “No Bias” Twitter: @marsjoint @nobiaspod

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Mars Robinson

Freelance NBA writer and host of NBA podcast “No Bias” Twitter: @marsjoint @nobiaspod