Why Celtics' response to finalized All-Star rosters is crucial

Nick Friar
January 31, 2020 - 6:45 am
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For a while now, it’s been clear who the Celtics’ top three players are: Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Now, the order you put those three in is another story entirely.

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Walker is an All-NBA player, but Tatum could become an elite wing. Though Brown has been more efficient than Tatum, and they’re both averaging right around 20 points per game — as is Walker. Both young guys are better defenders than Walker, but Brown is superior, even though Tatum is much-improved.

So with two of those three making this year’s All-Star Game — first, Walker as a starter and now Tatum as a reserve — the odd man out could easily become frustrated and let it consume him. (Sort of like what Washington’s Bradley Beal did when he said “It’s disrespectful” he didn’t get in, even though the Wizards are 16-31.)

“I’m not disappointed,” Brown said about not being selected for the All-Star Game following Thursday’s win. “I think (there are) a lot of guys having a good year.”

 

Now, Brown will still use being snubbed as motivation. That’s fine. Brown’s play this season is proof he has found a way to channel his emotions toward his work in an effective manner.

Although the Celtics are fourth in the East, Brown has reason to be frustrated. Because he was worthy of being an All-Star. Both he and Tatum still have room to grow, but the consideration they’ve received across the league is absolutely warranted.

“Whether you’re named an All-Star or not, it didn’t really matter to us,” Brad Stevens said. “(Tatum) and Jaylen have both played like All-Stars and both have been such huge parts of our team, not only this year but for the last few years. “

With Tatum, there could be a different issue: complacency. He’s only 21 and he’s already an All-Star — just like Antione Walker back in 1998.

But the only thing Tatum exuded on Thursday was gratefulness. Even when he talked after the 119-104 win over the Warriors, Tatum — a guy who doesn’t make a big deal out of anything — couldn’t contain his emotions this time. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' win, click here.)

“I am so excited. It has always been a dream of mine and it finally happened,” Tatum said. “To get to join (Walker), my teammate, at All-Star Weekend, it doesn’t even feel real right now. I am so excited.”

So far, Tatum and Brown are both saying all the right things. They just need to follow through, like they have over the course of Boston’s first 47 games of the season. Because the Celtics can’t have either dwelling on the All-Star Game. Tatum and Brown are too important.

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