Los Angeles — NBA All-Star weekend doesn’t just belong to the big boys playing in the league’s marquee event on Sunday night. It also provides a sneak peak and shines a light on the young fellas that could be the future of the game down the road: the dudes that were invited to play in Friday night’s Rising Stars game.
We caught up with the Boston Celtics outstanding rookie, who is averaging 13.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this year for a team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference heading into the break.
He gave us some insight on making the transition to the NBA, learning from Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, what it feels like when old-heads give him his props, his thoughts on the Rookie of the Year race and more. Here’s what he had to say.
“The guys my age that were one-and-done in college, like Dennis Smith, we’ve all played against each other growing up. I’ve been playing against De’Aaron Fox since the third grade. We played in AAU camps together, went to the McDonald’s All-American game together, so we all had plans to go to the NBA and hoped that it would happen one day. It’s cool to share this experience with some guys that you’ve known for a very long time.
The last few months, making the transition from college, the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to take care of your body. The amount of games that you play compared to college is vastly different, so you have to take care of your body.
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There are a lot of back-to-back games, a lot of travel, and you want to be able to be durable.
There are some really good rookies in the league this year. Ben Simmons is a 6-foot-10 point guard, that’s not common these days. He has a great feel for the game and knows how to play the right way. Between him and Donovan Mitchell as the Rookie of the Year, that’s a great question and I really don’t know the answer to that right now.
In Boston, we started off really well this year. Lately we haven’t been playing as well as we can, and we understand that. This All-Star break is gonna be good for us to take some time, get back on the page and figure things out to be the team we know we can be.
I feel like we have a great team and if we play the right way every night, we have a chance to beat anybody in the playoffs. It’s gonna be tough, but we’ll see how we match up when the playoffs come and take it one game at a time.
Jayson Tatum Full Highlights Feb 2, 2018 Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks – 27 Pts, 4 Stls! ‘FreeDawkins NBA Video’ –Like And Subscribe For More! Follow me on Twitter – https://twitter.com/DawkinsMTA Boxscore – DISCLAIMER – All clips property of the NBA. No copyright infringement is intended, all videos are edited to follow the “Free Use” guideline of YouTube.
So far this season, I was surprised at the role I’ve been able to play. Obviously Gordon Hayward got hurt the first game of the season. That transformed our team and we had to change a little bit. Guys like myself got more playing time and opportunities as a result. I think I’ve done pretty well and hopefully, as a team, we can continue to do better.
Watching Kyrie Irving and the other vets in the locker room every day, I see how they approach the game. They’ve been in the league for a long time, so I watch how they approach workouts, practice, games and the things they do on a day-to-day basis. They’re true professionals.
Al Horford is a very important piece of what we do. He’s our team leader, the oldest guy in the locker room and one of the biggest reasons why we’ve done so well this season. It may not always show in the stats, but him being out there leading the young guys, especially on the defensive end, it’s so helpful.
For me and Jaylen Brown to be in the Rising Stars Game, and have our two leaders in Kyrie and Al Horford in Sunday’s All-Star Game, we’re representing the city of Boston. And we’re all excited to be here. And Jaylen has a great chance to make the jump and be an All-Star in next year’s game.
My teammates, they’ve welcomed me with open arms and helped me out. We have two guys that have won a championship and guys that have been in the playoffs year after year. That’s why I’ve been able to have the level of success that I’ve had thus far.
Playing with Kyrie is great. He’s a great teammate, a great leader and a true superstar. He shows that night in and night out.
Jayson Tatum Full Highlights Jan 29, 2018 Boston Celtics at Denver Nuggets – 20 Pts, 6 Rebs, 4 Asts! ‘FreeDawkins NBA Video’ –Like And Subscribe For More! Follow me on Twitter – https://twitter.com/DawkinsMTA Boxscore – http://www.espn.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=400975489 DISCLAIMER – All clips property of the NBA.
I have to keep getting better in every aspect of my game, continue to work at my craft and stay the course.
This is such a great weekend. You’ve got the best players in the world here, you’ve got all of the Hall of Famers and legends, all under one roof. And it’s great to interact with all of them, these great players that I grew up watching on TV.
Most of those guys approach me and tell me I’ve been playing really well, guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Gary Payton, De’Andre Jordan and Joel Embiid. They’re telling me that they enjoy watching me and to keep going, to keep striving to do better.”