INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — When Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gazes down the sidelines in the course of the Jap Convention finals towards the Boston Celtics, there will probably be one other acquainted face apart from former Cavs guard Kyrie Irving wanting again at him: his cousin, Jayson Tatum.
The Celtics rookie, whom Lue calls “Little Jay,” is from St. Louis, a couple of two-hour drive from Lue’s hometown of Mexico, Missouri. Lue and Tatum’s father, Justin, are cousins on Lue’s grandfather’s aspect of the household, in keeping with the Cavs coach.
The 20-year-old Celtic, who’s in his first season out of Duke, has been spending time with Lue for greater than half of his life. Outdoors of being blood kin, Tatum’s father and Lue share a mutual buddy in St. Louis native Larry Hughes, the previous Cavs guard.
“They come to Mexico all the time,” Lue mentioned. “Just seeing Little Jay when he was 6 or 7 years old and now to who he is today is crazy. Seeing the player he’s become, we knew he was going to be good, but now he’s at a whole new level. Just seeing him coming to Mexico and just coming to my barbecues and all that stuff and now he’s an NBA player and playing at a high level, it’s just good to see.”
Tatum has scored 20 factors or extra in seven straight playoff video games, passing Larry Fowl’s rookie document for the Celtics (4 straight video games) whereas additionally turning into the youngest participant in league historical past with such a scoring streak within the playoffs, passing Kobe Bryant.
“He’s playing exceptionally well for a rookie,” Lue mentioned. Justin Tatum texted Lue this week to make plans to see his cousin whereas he is teaching towards his son in the course of the convention finals.
Lue mentioned the matchup will probably be “weird” to handle, however he’ll place his allegiances together with his Cavs household over his blood household.
“It’s tough because you want to see him do well, but not against you,” Lue mentioned. “We just have to, just try to take him and be physical with him and not let him get easy baskets. He’s going to score because he can post and he can put it on the floor, but we just have to try to take away his easy baskets as much as possible.”
Lue mentioned he first believed Tatum had professional potential when he was “14 or 15” years previous.
When Tatum was round that age in 2012, he tweeted at LeBron James asking for a observe again and included a photograph that he and James had beforehand posed for collectively.
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) April 13, 2012
Within the picture, Tatum is sporting a duplicate Bryant jersey from the 2006 All-Star Recreation. When confirmed Tatum’s previous tweet for the primary time on Thursday, Lue shook his head and mentioned, “Now look. That’s crazy.”
After being guarded by Toronto Raptors rookie OG Anunoby for almost all of the convention finals, James declared that the 2017 NBA draft class — which incorporates Tatum, Anunoby and Rookie of the 12 months contender Donovan Mitchell (Ben Simmons was drafted in 2016, however can also be thought-about a robust ROY candidate; he missed everything of the 2016-17 season due to harm) — was the very best draft class since James entered the league together with his heralded group in 2003.
Tatum is averaging 18.eight factors on 45.9 p.c taking pictures, four.5 rebounds, three.2 assists and 1.2 steals within the playoffs after placing up 13.9 factors on 47.5 p.c, 5.zero rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.zero steals per sport within the common season.
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“He’s not scared, he’s not afraid and he’s always been that type of kid,” Lue mentioned. “He wants these type of moments and he’s taking advantage of it. With Kyrie (Irving) and Gordon (Hayward) going down and him having a chance to play the minutes he’s been playing, starting and playing in the playoffs the way he has, he’s taken full advantage of it. But he’s never been scared, he’s never been afraid of the big moment. You can see that.”
Lue added that Tatum’s toughness is the 6-9 ahead’s biggest high quality, alongside together with his management.
“As a little kid he was fast, but I think as he got taller it slowed him down a little bit,” Lue mentioned. “I think that has helped his game a lot. He’s never in a rush, he plays patiently and reminds me a lot of Paul Pierce when Paul first came out. Being able to get to the free throw line, great footwork, never gets sped up offensively so he’s a really good player.”
Does Cousin Lue take credit score for Tatum’s success? “No. No,” Lue mentioned with a smile. “He got it from himself and his dad.”