Former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins has become one of the NBA’s most outspoken analysts, unafraid to call out the C’s when they’re not playing well or underachieving. At 25-26 and clinging to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, it’s fair to wonder if the Celtics aren’t getting enough out of their roster – all the way to Jayson Tatum.
So Perkins decided to target Tatum in his postgame analysis after the Celtics lost 106-96 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. Tatum finished with 20 points, but shot a meh 7-for-17 from the field (41.2 percent) and only 3-for-10 from three-point range. He scored just five points on 2-for-9 (22.2 percent) shooting in the first half as the Sixers took a 59-46 lead to halftime.
Tatum is never going to be much of a factor in defending guys like Joel Embiid, so it’s not totally fair to pin everything on him. But for Perkins, it’s less about pure basketball and more about Tatum’s overall attitude.
“Jayson Tatum, you got paid the big bucks!” Perkins tweeted. You have the body language and energy level of an underpaid player and it’s hurtin the team. Time to step up and live up to your role, straight up. Carry on…”
Jayson Tatum, you got paid the big bucks! You have the body language and energy level of an underpaid player and it’s hurtin the team. Time to step up and live up to your role, straight up. Carry on...— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) April 7, 2021
Perkins isn’t wrong about Tatum needing to be the one that instills confidence in the rest of the team, and at the very least, lead by that example. If not be a more vocal leader.
The problem is Tatum is still just 23 and in his fourth season. If Tatum is going to unlock that edge that Perkins wants to see, it may still take at least a couple more seasons. That’s the risk involved with building the identity of your team around a young and inexperienced player, even if it’s an All-Star talent like Tatum.
Hopefully, though, Perkins’ wishes for Tatum eventually come true. Because if the Celtics’ identity is going to be a player who lacks the killer instinct required to separate yourself from other All-Stars, that’s going to be an obstacle to raising an 18th banner.
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.