BOSTON – When it comes to NBA workouts, they typically account for a small portion of what goes into the decision for teams to select one player over another.
But when it came to Jayson Tatum, his workout for the Celtics earlier this week cemented Boston’s decision to select Tatum with the No. 3 overall pick Thursday night.
“He’s a really skilled player, really talented scorer,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told a pool reporter on Thursday during the NBA draft. “Great kid, great work ethic. We’re excited to have him aboard.”
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Celtics president Rich Gotham said that Tatum has been a favorite of Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, for several months.
Tatum worked out for Ainge and the Celtics’ front office out West earlier this month, and did a second workout for Boston on Monday in Waltham, Mass. in front of Stevens and his assistant coaches.
Stevens was impressed with Tatum’s consistency.
“He never changed his expression,” Stevens said. “Never changed his expression, went at a high tempo, but when he missed a shot he never showed anything but resolve to make the next one.”
And the workout came with Tatum feeling less than his usual self, something the Celtics did not learn about until after the workout was over.
Stevens said there wasn’t anything about Tatum’s workout that led him to believe he was anything less than at full strength.
“You could tell afterward; he was hurting a little bit afterwards,” Stevens said. “He got in Sunday night, got in late, worked out early Monday morning so he could get to New York.”
And while there are questions as to where he’ll play for the Celtics, Stevens sees that as one of the 6-foot-8 forward’s greatest strengths.
“The biggest thing is that we really value his versatility,” Stevens said. “A couple years ago, I talked about how we were thin on guys that could play a number of different positions, when you talk about, really, two (shooting guard), three (small forward), four (power forward). Now we’re starting to really … we’ve got a lot of positionless players that can dribble, pass, and shoot. That’s a good thing.”