Toucher & Rich: Danny Ainge cites 'more freedom' as force behind standout season

Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth,

With another impressive performance Wednesday night in Utah Jayson Tatum, continues to inch closer and closer to NBA superstardom. While many fans and pundits seem surprised by the breakout second half, the man who drafted the 21-year-old Tatum is not among them.

"So first of all, I mean, Jayson is so young and we've seen signs of this," Celtics general manager Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich Thursday morning. "We saw signs in his rookie year in playoff basketball. We've seen signs of stardom."

Feb 26, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots the ball against Utah Jazz forward Georges Niang (31) during the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Ainge credited Tatum's ability in the iso game as the standout element of this run.

"He's making his three-point shots and creating his three-point shots, which is a whole new element. He's not like getting wide open shots being created by other people. That's very impressive. And he's doing a much better job of finishing around the rim."

Finally, Ainge pointed out a shift in the team's dynamic has aided him this season, mentioning "Last year was a little bit of a unique year in that there was just not the same opportunities that he's had this year, the same freedom."

Last year was 'a bit unique'? He didn't have 'the same freedom'? What changed for the Celtics over the offseason that may be allowing players more freedom?

May 6, 2019; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during the second half in game four of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Oh that's right.

It's probably much easier to work on your step-back when you're not being barraged with questions about the government or the shape of the earth.

You can listen to Toucher & Rich's full conversation with Danny Ainge here:

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hate mail? Let him hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].