‘He does a lot of talking’: Jayson Tatum has impressed Celtics teammates with his leadership in training camp

"We all put a lot into this game, so we all have the right to give input to each other."

Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum at practice during Celtics training camp at the Auerbach Center. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Jayson Tatum knows he doesn’t come across as a vocal person.

When Jaylen Brown was asked by NBC Sports Boston for an attribute about Tatum that he would like to steal in a recent interview, he noted Tatum’s stoicism. An outside observer might see Tatum’s calm demeanor as passive.

Tatum and his teammates, however, believe that impression is misguided.

“I might not be the loudest guy, especially in front of the camera,” Tatum told reporters on Thursday. “But for the guys in that locker room, when we’re in practice or on the plane or on the court, my presence is felt in my voice. We all put a lot into this game, so we all have the right to give input to each other. That’s all I try to do when I see something, try to help guys out.


The Celtics, of course, have a lot of people capable of leading the team already on the roster. Marcus Smart is the longest tenured Celtics player, and he has seen a lot of ups and downs in a green jersey. Al Horford will likely play his 1,000th regular-season game this year. Malcolm Brogdon is a veteran with plenty of gravitas. Jaylen Brown is often insightful and has an extra NBA season on Tatum.

Joe Mazzulla, meanwhile, has spent three years getting to know Celtics players as an assistant coach, and his first three days at the helm have drawn praise from all corners.

“Joe’s been really good,” Tatum said on Thursday. “He hasn’t changed his character. Still the same guy. Somebody everybody respects.”

So the Celtics have plenty of personnel capable of spotting and calling out problems. But Tatum is the team’s superstar, and players tend to follow superstars.

“He does a lot of talking, pulling guys aside, seeing how we can get the best look and whatever it might be,” Derrick White said. “So [you] definitely see that maturity and the growth that he’s he’s doing.

“He wants to win. It’s always good to follow guys that want to win.”


For Tatum, vocal leadership is a natural progression. The Celtics have never missed the playoffs during his career, but his first four seasons were tumultuous. Now, with an NBA Finals run under his belt — and the sour taste of being eliminated by the Warriors — Tatum can speak to teammates with some authority.

“Just how much more mentally tough you have to be to get there and get over the hump,” Tatum said on Thursday, when asked what he learned from the Finals run. “We’re giving them credit. They won. They beat us. There were a lot of mental errors, mental mistakes that we made in the Finals that we just learned from.”

Horford credited Tatum for stepping up as a leader in the playoffs last season, as the Celtics ground their way through their postseason bracket.

“He took a huge step in my eyes,” Horford said. “I feel like that confidence is kind of going to carry over this year and we’re going to continue to see more of that from him.”


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