Ainge: Tatum 'unlikely' to win Rookie of the Year due to playing time
Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge sees a world of potential and a tremendous amount of upside in rookie forward Jayson Tatum, but is tempering expectations for how he'll fare during his inaugural campaign.
The newly-revamped Celtics roster has 11 new faces, with offseason acquisitions Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward at the forefront. With a great deal of depth across the board, Ainge feels it will be difficult for Tatum to stand out due to the lack of playing time he'll receive compared to others from his rookie class.
“I think Terry (Rozier) and Marcus (Smart) are really ready to step up,” Ainge said. “And Jayson (Tatum) and Jaylen (Brown) we can be a little bit more patient with, but they are going to play an important role.
"We’ll see what minutes (Tatum) will earn. I’m not worried about how they will play when the lights go on. It will be unlikely that Jayson is Rookie of the Year because it will probably come from a team that starts their rookies and plays them 35 minutes per night."
Boston seeks to take the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for a second year in a row, and under head coach Brad Stevens, a rookie having a significant role when taking into account the team's end goals makes it hard to fathom Tatum having a huge impact - or at least a large enough impact to take home the hardware.
At 6-foot-8, Tatum has the size to suit up at both small and power forward, which are currently occupied in the starting lineup (presumably) by Hayward and Marcus Morris. Remember, Boston did move down in the draft from the No. 1 slot to not only accumulate further assets, but because they liked Tatum and knew he'd still be available two spots down.
However, with the likes of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De'Aaron Fox, and Dennis Smith Jr. all in the ROTY conversation, along with a returning Ben Simmons, Tatum's production will likely pale in comparison to theirs, if only because their respective teams will rely more heavily on their contributions than Boston will with the Duke product.
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