Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is known for his positionless basketball philosophy, which means more playing time for Jayson Tatum.
Tatum played well during summer league and the preseason, though his role as a starter may be more out of opportunity than anything else. Marcus Morris, who was acquired by the Celtics earlier this offseason in exchange for former starter Avery Bradley, will miss time at the beginning of the year due to an injury.
Al Horford, another projected starter for Boston, has called Tatum the most NBA-ready rookie he has encountered during his career. If he does indeed begin his first season as a member of the starting lineup, this is particularly significant when contrasted with fellow rookie Markelle Fultz.
Tatum and Fultz will always be mentioned in the same conversation because the Celtics traded the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, who had the No. 3 pick. Boston received another draft pick in the deal and have said they would have preferred to take Tatum with the first pick if they hadn’t made the move.
As of right now, Fultz is projected to come off the bench for the Sixers. This is likely because he did not receive much playing time during the preseason because of various injury issues.
It’s not crazy for a rookie to begin his career on the bench. Just look at James Harden, who was picked at No. 3 overall and scored less than 10 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder during his first season in the NBA.
Harden came off the bench for three consecutive seasons and did not score more than 17 points per game in any of those campaigns. However, during his first year as a starter, he jumped to 25.9 points per game. He’s scored 25 points per game five years in a row since the transition.