Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown undoubtedly should shoulder some of the blame for the Celtics’ recent struggles.
But perhaps some critics of Boston’s franchise cornerstones currently are going a bit too far.
Tatum and Brown each have caught some heat of late for being “ball-stoppers,” or disruptors of the offensive flow and rhythm. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, however, is not totally buying this notion.
“Great players like Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant … they stopped the ball some, too,” Ainge said Thursday on “Toucher and Rich,” as transcribed by 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Matt Dolloff. “They do their moves, they do their step-backs, and they take their shots. I do think it is a little unfair to just hold the ball stoppage on them.”
Neither Tatum nor Brown probably should be condemned for their ball dominance. The pair 2021 All-Stars far and away are the Celtics’ best options on offense, and the support they have around them is average at best. Even Kemba Walker has yet to show any sort of consistency since returning from injury. At the end of the day, you want the ball in the hands of your best players for the majority of the game.
If you are going to criticize Tatum and Brown for anything, it should be their roles in Boston’s effort level of late. Head coach Brad Stevens also deserves criticism for this particular issue, but as team leaders, Tatum and Brown need to set the tone. The fact that neither player is capable of pinpointing a reason for the Celtics’ lack of a sense of urgency is pretty concerning.
Boston still has enough time to turn its season around. But the C’s only are going to go as far as Tatum and Brown take them, both in terms of play and leadership.