Celtics Notes: Tatum, R. Williams, Smart, White

Jayson Tatum hasn’t forgotten the feeling of being passed over by the Lakers in the 2017 draft — or that the Celtics almost didn’t take him either, according to Ramona Shelburne and Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN. Tatum, who has become the biggest star among that year’s draft class, grew up as a Lakers fan and still offers subtle tributes to Kobe Bryant. L.A. owned the No. 2 pick, but was focused on Lonzo Ball, ending Tatum’s hopes of wearing purple and gold.

“The Lakers were my favorite team, and Kobe was my favorite player,” Tatum said. “So it was crazy that the Lakers had the second pick and I was so close to a dream come true. But it was just like they didn’t want anything to do with me at the time.”

Tatum had a strong pre-draft workout for Boston, which owned the top pick. Danny Ainge, who ran the Celtics at the time, had planned to take Markelle Fultz, but Fultz shot poorly at his workout and didn’t seem fully healthy, so Ainge traded down and grabbed Tatum at No. 3.

“After my workout, I remember one of the [Boston] scouts came up to me and said, ‘That was a great workout. I’m excited for you. But we got the No. 1 pick, so we’re not going to pick you,'” Tatum recalled. “He still works for the Celtics now, so I f— with him all the time.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Robert Williams has earned a new level of respect by playing in pain throughout the postseason, per Jay King of The Athletic. Williams has come a long way since college, when there were questions surrounding his work ethic and maturity level. “Rob has made huge jumps,” teammate Jaylen Brown said. “Not just in his game, but just the mental game. Just being able to be consistent, being able to be solid, being able to be available. And a lot of that comes from confidence. A lot of that comes from self belief, inner belief.” Williams was listed as questionable for tonight’s Game 3, but he’ll be in the starting lineup, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • Marcus Smart tells Steve Bulpett of Heavy that the Celtics are stronger because of the trials they experienced during their 18-21 start. “We definitely made it hard on ourselves,” Smart said. “But, you know, we always hear the saying: if you want something great, it’s never gonna be easy to achieve it. So, you know, we take that full head-on as a team, we accept it and we ride with it.”
  • After being traded to Boston by the Spurs, Derrick White found a lot of similarities in the system run by Ime Udoka, who was a former assistant in San Antonio, but he said the Celtics place more emphasis on physicality, Grant Afseth writes for Sports Illustrated“In San Antonio, we had a lot of emphasis on not fouling,” White said. “To keep them [opponents] off the line. Obviously, they don’t want dumb fouls here, but I’m just trying to be more physical. Just little things like that.”
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