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Kevin Durant on what he admires most about Jayson Tatum originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
At 23 years old, the C's forward already has two All-Star selections and an All-NBA nod under his belt. This season, Tatum notched career-highs in points per game (26.4), rebounds (6.6), assists (4.3), and shooting percentage (45.9%).
He's only getting better, and the NBA's best are taking notice.
Kevin Durant raved about Tatum's growth as a player ahead of the first-round playoff series between the Celtics and Nets.
"The best thing I've seen about JT is how he stays the same no matter what the lineup is," Durant said Friday. "Guys are in and out, he had COVID, his running mate (Jaylen Brown) is out for the rest of the season, Kemba [Walker] was in and out of the lineup, and he stayed solid.
"I mean, the way he plays the game, he never changes his style from scoring from the top of the key, to the post, from either side of the floor, adding passing to the game now. I feel like he has some blinders on and just focused in on developing and continuing to grow as a player, and that's what I admire the most from afar. But he's learning more and more about NBA defenses and as a young guy he's been through so much already. He's only going to get smarter, so I think at this point people have thrown everything at him and he's handled it pretty well."
Tatum ended the 2020-21 regular season with a bang. He notched at least 26 points in eight of the Celtics' final nine games, including a 60-point outburst against the San Antonio Spurs. In the play-in game vs. Washington, Tatum put up 50 to propel his team to the playoffs.
As for Durant, the he remains among the game's elite when healthy. In 32 games this season, the two-time NBA champion averaged 26.9 points, 7.1 assists, and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 53.7 percent from the field.
The C's will need more Tatum takeovers if they're to have any chance of upsetting Durant and the second-seeded Nets. Given the elite scoring ability Tatum has displayed over the last month, it's entirely possible he could steal a game or two on his own.
Game 1 of Celtics vs. Nets is set for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday.