Ime Udoka Says 'The Sky Is the Limit' for Celtics with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown

Blake SchusterContributor IJune 28, 2021

Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

Now officially the 18th head coach in Boston Celtics history, Ime Udoka began his tenure by praising the franchise's emerging duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, noting the team can build around the two long-term. 

Boston Celtics @celtics

Ime Udoka is officially our 18th Head Coach ☘️ <a href="https://t.co/geTZ3tw6kZ">pic.twitter.com/geTZ3tw6kZ</a>

"With two young pillars at this age, the sky is the limit,"  Udoka said Monday in his first comments since taking the job. 

Brown, 24, averaged 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 58 games last season while Tatum, 23, averaged 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 64 contests. The latter excelled towards the end of the season with three games of 40 points or more in his final 12 outings.

Tatum is signed through 2026. Brown is under contract through 2024. Both are expected to play a massive role in the team's future, but it's clear Udoka feels their present could be just as extraordinary. 

NBC Sports Boston @NBCSBoston

Ime Udoka's message to Jaylen &amp; Jayson: "Why wait? Don't wait for anything. Go out and take it now" <a href="https://t.co/ZL4o1EEx6F">pic.twitter.com/ZL4o1EEx6F</a>

Having spent the last few years as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, Udoka was able to get an up-close look at the development of Brown and Tatum. Now, he gets an opportunity to reap the benefits.

"I want to tell Jayson and Jaylen: 'The fact that you aren't All-NBA should be a chip on your shoulder,'" Udoka said. "'Why wait? Go out and take it now.' That's a message I shared with Kawhi Leonard when we were pushing him to become a championship-caliber player in San Antonio."

One of the areas the first-time head coach expects to push the duo is with sharing the ball. As he ticked off stats from last season, Udoka gave former head coach Brad Stevens—the man who hired Udoka as his replacement—a little friendly grief in that area.

"Sorry Brad, but 27th in assists last year ... we want to have more team basketball," Udoka said. "But you have Jayson and Jaylen and you need to play to your strengths. And we're going to get after defensively from the start."

As he begins his Boston tenure, Udoka has made clear who he expects the most from moving forward. It'll be on Brown and Tatum to live up to their new coach's hype. 



The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.