‘Guys I Looked Up To’: Celtics’ Jayson Tatum Reveals His Toughest Matchups in the NBA

Published 04/27/2021, 7:57 AM EDT
Apr 13, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts after a shot during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports


In the 2020 NBA Free Agency, the LA Clippers did their best to bring in Kawhi Leonard. They followed that up with another big arrival in Paul George. They built a duo of two of the best wings in the league, are also well respected among their peers, with Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum among their fans.

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During a recent Q&A session with fans on Reddit, Tatum revealed George and Leonard are two of his toughest matchups. He said, “I think for my own individual matchup, Kawhi and Paul George. Those are two guys I looked up to before I get into the league.”

This isn’t the first time he has spoken highly about the Clippers stars. In an interview in February, Tatum revealed how he has been looking up to them since middle school. He said, “They’re guys I used to look up to since I was in middle school or high school. And now I get a chance to compete against them and earn their respect as peers.

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George and Leonard are two of the best two-way players in the league, and Tatum is slowly on his way to also becoming one.

Looking back at Jayson Tatum and Kawhi Leonard’s recent duel

Tatum has played seven times against Leonard, winning four of those battles. The most recent game was back in February, when he led the Celtics to a four-point win.

The Clippers had an excellent start to the game and were up by double-digits at half time. But an inspired Tatum helped the Celtics pummel the Clippers in the second half to execute a terrific comeback. Tatum scored 34 points in that game, shooting 12-27 from the field.

Leonard did his best too, scoring 28 points while shooting 8-19 from the field. The absence of George hurt the Clippers, but the Celtics were missing Jaylen Brown too. So it was a battle between two of the league’s best wing players, and Tatum overcame his idol.

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Tatum arrived in the league as an offensive genius, who could score from anywhere. And now slowly, Tatum is improving defensively too. Similar to Leonard, Tatum will also aim to lead his team to a title. Leonard led the Raptors to a championship, and Tatum will have similar ambitions. If he lives up to his potential, he can certainly deliver titles for the Celtics.

Apr 9, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) reacts after making a shot during the first half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

 

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Aaron Mathew

1551 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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