With much of the hype for this year's draft class surrounding Lonzo Ball, Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum has gone slightly under the radar and could become the best of the new generation.
The 19-year-old put in some impressive performances in the Summer League and caught the attention of many with his style of play.
Tatum has received comparisons to Celtics legend Paul Pierce and the man himself weighed in on this with some high praise for the youngster last month.
“He looks like an older version of me, when I started doing the step-back and stuff,” Pierce said in an exclusive interview with CSN.
“When I’m watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like sixth, seventh, eighth year. He sees the defense. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He understands his position, footwork, his step-back (jumper) is there. His offensive repertoire seems complete. The sky is the limit for that kid.”
Pierce retired at the end of last season after a stellar NBA career which saw him win a championship with the C's in 2008, a Finals MVP, 10 All-Star appearances and receive multiple All-NBA selections.
He is one of the best players in Celtics history and Tatum can't believe he's being mentioned in the same breath as the future Hall of Famer.
"Pretty high expectations," he said. "He was one of the best players to ever play, especially in Boston. It's an honour to be in the same sentence as his name."
Despite his talent, Pierce had some wise advice for the number three pick about what will separate him from the rest of the pack.
“The thing I see, what makes the guy special, there’s a lot of talent in the league. There’s no question about it,” Pierce said.
“Your mentality, your drive, how great you want to be, that’s what separates the good from the great ones. You look at guys from the past, like Kobe (Bryant’s) determination, his competitive spirit. You see guys that were just as talented, they didn’t have the same competitive spirit so they could not reach the levels of other greats."
The Duke product is gearing up for his NBA bow on Tuesday night as Boston takes on the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
Depending on the minutes he gets, the small forward may spend some part of the game matched up against LeBron James which will be a real baptism of fire into the league.