Paul Pierce knows a thing or two about what it takes to be a great Boston Celtics player. The former NBA champion and Finals MVP winner is one of a select few who has seen his jersey retired by the historically great franchise, and he sees an equally bright future for Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum, who has come into his own this postseason.
"I think he's going to be one of the great players in Celtic history," Pierce said of Tatum to the Boston Herald. "He's already off to such a great start. He's mature beyond his years. He doesn't look rattled by the moment."
Tatum averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds during the regular season, but is putting up 18.4 points and 4.3 rebounds during the postseason as he's emerged as a trusty option for a Celtics team playing without several contributors, most notably Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. In their absence, he has proven to Pierce that he's a rare talent who can turn it up a notch in the biggest moments.
"He's an ultra talent, but some players are made for the regular season and some are built for the playoffs," Pierce said. "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 has drawn comparisons to Pierce for his ability to create his own shot off the bounce in isolation situations. Even as a rookie, he's got an ability to produce instant offense, and his knack for turning it up a notch in the playoffs is reminiscent of another Celtics great.
"Oh, I see a lot of myself in him," Pierce said of comparisons to the Boston rookie. "It just seems like he's outsmarting his opponent all the time. He's constantly thinking, how can he get his shot off? He can get his shot any time he wants, he's great in that mid-range area, he's very deceptive, and he's showing me a lot."