All Sections
Welcome guest, you have 3 views left.  Register| Sign In

Home | Sports Columns

Mike Shalin's Working Press -- Rookie comparison: Jayson Tatum has been very good while the heralded Lonzo Ball, in Boston tonight, has been ... just OK.

By MIKE SHALIN
November 08. 2017 1:03AM

The Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum, in action during Sunday's game at Orlando, has, so far, been the best of the three heralded rookies coming out of the 2017 draft. (USA TODAY SPORTS)



Remember back when the Celtics traded out of the first pick of the draft, skipped right over Lonzo Ball and went to No. 3? Remember the skeptics with the pick of one-and-done Duke Blue Devil Jayson Tatum?

The skepticism is gone.

It’s only 11 games, but Tatum has jumped to the lead among the trio. No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz is hurt, Ball can’t shoot (so far, at least) and Tatum, pushed at a more-rapid rate because of the injury to Gordon Hayward, is playing like a player much older than his 19 years.

All this after Danny Ainge said Tatum isn’t likely to be a rookie of the year candidate because the playing time just wouldn’t be there for him.

Tonight, with the Celtics looking to make it 10 wins in a row, Ball and the Lakers are at TD Garden.

Now let’s get something straight here: Ball has NOT been a disaster. And the Lakers, winners of two straight, are 5-5 and looking anything but a team that will be in one of the 2-5 slots in the next draft, thus sending that pick to Boston. It’s just that he hasn’t been able to shoot.

In the last two games, he is 6-for-28 from the floor, 1-for-11 from 3-point range — but the Lakers won both games with him dishing out 16 assists. For the year, he is shooting 29.9 percent from the floor.

He is averaging 8.8 points, 6.9 assists and 6.4 rebounds per game and had a 29-point game in his second as a pro. But he has totaled 59 points in the other nine games combined, 15 in the last three.

And then we have young Tatum, who has looked at home from the opening tap.

He is averaging 14.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 31.6 minutes per game. That’s plenty of minutes. And he’s been plenty good.

My buddy Jay King of MassLive did all kinds of stat work on Tatum and the one we liked the most was putting the kid on the list of Celtics rookies to average at least 14 points and six boards.

The list: Larry Bird (21.3/10.4), Tommy Heinsohn (16.2/9.8), Dave Cowens (17.0/15.0), John Havlicek (14.3/6.79), Bill Russell (14.7/19.6), Dino Radja (15.1/7.2), Paul Pierce (16.5/6.4), Bob Cousy (15.6/6.9) and Antoine Walker (17.5/9.0).

We’re assuming you’ve heard of those guys. Most of them are either already in the Hall of Fame or headed that way (Pierce).

Chinese trouble

Lonzo Ball, whose father made so much news during the whole draft process, wasn’t the Ball in the news Tuesday. His brother, LiAngelo, and two UCLA teammates were arrested for shoplifting, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

Just a hunch here, but thinking that’s not a great spot to get caught doing something illegal.

A source told Goodman the police “weren’t messing around,” and that “the kids were scared.”

Happy anniversary

Monday marked the 36th anniversary of Mike Gorman and Heinsohn’s first television game together,

Tweeted Gorman, one of the great guys in the business (Heinsohn’s not so bad either): “Since Tommy is not really a prolific tweeter I’ll speak for both of us. Thank you for letting us into your houses and lives.”

Tragic loss

Stunned Tuesday to hear the news that Roy Halladay had died in a plane crash in Florida at the age of just 40. This right-hander was a pro’s pro, won the Cy Young Award in both leagues.

For his career, with Toronto and Philadelphia, Halladay was 203-105 with a 3.38 ERA. He pitched a perfect game during the 2010 season, and then added a no-hitter in the NLDS.

The career is definitely worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

Awards finalists

There’s always something that makes you shake your head when the three finalists for the baseball honors are announced. This year it was that neither Rockie Nolan Arenado nor teammate Charlie Blackmon made it to the top three in the National League MVP race. They must have split the vote.

Another guy who didn’t make it was obvious rookie of the year Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers were 91-34 after his arrival.

The Hall of Fame Modern Era ballot was released and Luis Tiant gets another shot on an impressive list of players — and Players Association mastermind Marvin Miller, who should have been in long ago.

Tiant is bitter about the entire process, saying earlier this year, “I already told my family, ‘They put me after I die, don’t go anywhere. Don’t go to the Hall of Fame, don’t go to Cooperstown, don’t go no god— place. Cause I think it’s wrong what they do.

“What good is that they put you after you die? You can’t do nothing with your family and your friends.”

The thinking here is he won’t make it. Steve Garvey appears to be a logical choice, and Miller should finally make it, but there’s no guarantee anyone will get the needed 12 of 16 votes to get in.

Odds and ends

Don’t you love all this talk about a Tom Brady/Bill Belichick feud or bad relationship? … Did the 49ers really ask about Brady first before trading for Jimmy Garoppolo? … Once he’s cleared, Hayward will travel with the Celtics as part of his new video role. … While Tuukka Rask is just 21-29 all-time in shootouts, Ryan Miller is 58-35. … Barstool Sports has the Bruins visiting the Blackhawks in the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium. … The refurbished Nassau Coliseum, now known as NYCB Live and the home of the Long Island Nets G-League team, raised Julius Erving’s Nets No. 32 to the rafters over the weekend, a salute to a kid from the area who became someone very special. … Aaron Judge is the cover boy for MLB The Show ’18 video game. … Brian Cashman was more than willing to throw fired manager Joe Girardi under the bus the other day. … Teammate Tim Hardaway Jr. on Kristaps Porzingis: “He’s 7-3, man. You can’t teach that. He has a gift and he’s showing it in front of millions and millions of people .. Local talk shows didn’t like the way Alex Cora shrugged off how tough it is to manage in Boston. What was he supposed to do, say, “I’m scared but I think I can do it?”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL Sports columns