- Aug 23, 2008
I've never been on the "they can't play together" bandwagon—which is largely a media concoction anyway—but I do think it is difficult that while Jaylen is a great number 2 he isn't super well-equipped to handle things when Tatum is off the floor. He can't initiate a team offense and the defense takes a dip too. I don't know what the on/off numbers have been in these playoffs but it has felt like real cheek-clenching time anytime you see a lineup without JT. Jaylen always has the potential to go nuclear but at the moment the book is out and well into its 3rd printing on how to defend him in the playoffs. You shouldn't be cringing every time your All-NBA wing attempts to drive into the teeth of the defense, but that is what we've had the last two years.They said this on the Athletic NBA podcast too-they identified a bunch of potential targets for the #3 pick plus. OG, Brown, Siakam, etc. I dont think the $$$ work though, and they were talking about adding Nurkic for salary purposes.
I'm a fan of Jaylen, and I like what he does when he's "on." But if Tatum is the clear #1, I wonder if there needs to be more space between your top guy and the #2.
As an aside, I looked at Portland's roster this morning for the first time in a while. Is that where once highly-rated wings go to die? Justice Winslow, Nas Little, Cam Reddish, Kevin Knox....
Basically I think if you had a guy with less explosion but better handle, instincts, and defense, you might have a lower ceiling but perhaps a better fit. I dunno, it's a complicated situation, and the explosion is actually hugely important because aside from JB and TL when he is fit, they are kind of a plodding team. I do think they can win a title with these guys as the top two but the dumb basketball stuff is going to keep killing them.
Ultimately I think Tatum is so good that there are a lot of ways you can rejigger around him—both big and small moves—that won't cost regular season wins but could give a different look/gear for the playoffs.