Ace Jaylene Brown and Jayson Tatum started to emerge as stars, they were generally surrounded by veterans who could mostly handle leadership responsibilities.
But Tatum is now in his fifth season and Brown in his sixth, and in addition to putting up All-Star-caliber numbers, they have also become more prominent voices on the bench and in the locker room, the next logical step in their ascensions .
I’ve spoken to [Jaylen] and Jayson, specifically, about stepping up leadership-wise and being outside of their comfort zone,” coach Ime Udoka said before Wednesday’s night game against the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden. “They are two guys who, for the most part, handle their business, stay to themselves, I guess not the most vocal. But it’s welcome, as I mentioned with Jayson, speaking at shootaround last week, so it’s welcome.
“Guys listen to these guys when they speak up, being that they haven’t all the time in the past. And it shows the growth on his part of it. But it’s not always seen by me. A lot of times the coaches are going back to the huddle, the coaches will tell me that he’s really vocal in the timeouts, speaking to guys, and so it’s great for him and our team and also shows improvement and that he’s really engaged and locked into improving himself and the team.”
veteran forward Al Horford said he’s noticed Brown’s voice in particular in recent weeks.
“He’s really keeping everyone focused, telling us we need to be focused, need to be locked in,” Horford said. “Need to prepare for the game, take care of the game-to-game type of thing. There’s a real sense of urgency in our group with that.”
Guard Josh Richardson added that Brown has been “stepping out of his comfort zone” by making himself heard more often.
“That’s good for our team,” Richardson said. “He spoke in the meeting the other day and before games, he’s speaking in huddles. I think that’s good coming from one of your top guys.”
Former Celtics point guard Terry Rose is in the midst of another strong season for the Hornets. He entered Wednesday night averaging 18.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Richardson, for one, has taken notice.
“He’s tough,” Richardson said. “He’s an aggressive player, shot maker, very shifty. Those guys over there got him playing with a lot of confidence. He’s one of those guys that once he gets going and sees a couple go in, then the night he gets a lot tougher on the defense.
The Celtics have struggled against zone defenses for much of this season, but they seemed to find a groove in their 122-92 win over the Heat on Monday, when they shot 52.4 percent from the field. “It kind of slows the game down, but also, if you attack it right, you get more open looks,” Richardson said. “If we stick to our game plan, what we’re supposed to do, the spaces we’re supposed to be in, and if we don’t let the ball be stagnant, we’ll give ourselves a good chance to attack them .” … Celtics center Robert Williams (toe) and guard Dennis Schroder (Achilles’) were cleared to play after being listed as probable on the injury report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism