There’s no such thing as a silver lining after a horrible injury like the one suffered by Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward on Tuesday evening.
However, the team will make the necessary adjustments needed to fill his role in the starting lineup. Jayson Tatum, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, made his professional debut for Boston on Opening Night.
Tatum was likely considered a temporary starter as Marcus Morris, acquired for Avery Bradley earlier this offseason, recovered from injury. Even when Morris comes back, however, Tatum could stay in the first unit.
Tatum, the first Boston rookie to be a starter in his first career game since Paul Pierce in 1998, impressed early and often. He became the first Celtics rookie since Larry Bird in 1979 to record a double-double in his debut.
After the strong performance, Tatum will likely be counted on more often as someone likely to step in for Hayward during the prolonged absence of the team’s marquee free agent signing.
Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons and Dennis Smith Jr. are all projected to have better odds to win 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year than Tatum. But with an increased role for the Celtics, his chances of taking home the hardware will certainly increase.
Before the injury, according to Oddsmaker.eu, he had an implied probability of 7.61 percent to receive the honor. Smith was listed at 18.12 percent while Simmons was 24.88 percent and Ball led the pack at 28.49 percent.
The odds were since pulled after the injury. Oddsmaker sources believe Tatum is expected to jump up to around a 12.5 percent implied probability.
Still, he will face competition from many others including 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz (76ers), Josh Jackson (Suns), De’Aaron Fox (Kings) and longshots like Kyle Kuzma (Lakers) or Milos Teodosic (Clippers).
Al Horford, one of Tatum’s teammates in Boston, says that the 19-year-old former Duke star is one of the most NBA-ready rookies he has ever seen.
With sudden expectation changes and strong players around him like Horford and Kyrie Irving, it would not be a surprise if Tatum steps up and surprises folks as the top first-year player this season.
DunkWire, Ben Simmons, Boston Celtics, De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, Kyle Kuzma, Larry Bird, Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Milos Teodosic, Paul Pierce, Ben Simmons, De'Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, Kyle Kuzma, Larry Bird, Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Milos Teodosic, Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics