Paul Pierce: Jayson Tatum Will Be 1 of the 'Great Players' in Celtics History

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2018

BOSTON, MA - MAY 23: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics reacts to a play in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2018 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce said on Thursday that Celtics rookie small forward Jayson Tatum can join him as one of the best players in the storied franchise's history.

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald provided comments from Pierce, who said he sees "a lot of myself in him" when watching Tatum consistently outsmart the opponent.

"I think he's going to be one of the great players in Celtic history," the 10-time NBA All-Star selection said.

Pierce contrasted Tatum's immediate postseason success with the struggles he witnessed from Philadelphia 76ers rookie sensation Ben Simmons when the teams faced off in the second round. "It looked like [the] moment was too big for [Simmons]," he said. "He was wide-eyed out there. He looked confused."

"He's an ultra talent, but some players are made for the regular season and some are built for the playoffs," said Pierce, who played in 10 postseasons in 15 years as a Celtic. "And Tatum is obviously built for the playoffs. He's not going to have the stats that these other guys like Donovan Mitchell have and Simmons, but you can tell he was made for the playoffs. He thrives in the playoffs."

Tatum, the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, has averaged 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals in 17 playoff games.

He's a key reason the Celtics have continued to thrive and possess a 3-2 lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, despite the absences of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.

Pierce, an analyst for ESPN, told Bulpett he's going to keep his distance while Boston tries to push toward another NBA title, which would increase its league record to 18, but he'll be in contact with the organization during the offseason about Tatum.

"No, I don't want to mess up his run, man," the team's second all-time leading scorer (24,021 points) said. "He's fine. I would love to work with him, though, this summer. I'll probably call Danny [Ainge, the Celtics general manager] and see if that's possible, but I would love to work with him. I see some things in his game where I know I could help."

Tatum and the Celtics will look to close out the Cavs in Game 6 on Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena and punch their ticket to the 2018 NBA Finals.

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