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Tatum took important steps with USA and it's already evident in Boston
BOSTON (USA) - Jayson Tatum has returned to the United States a better player, even if he couldn't help the United States capture a third straight FIBA Basketball World Cup title this summer.
Whether that might have happened had Tatum not sprained an ankle in a thrilling 93-92 win over Turkey in Shanghai on September 3 and been lost for the remainder of the tournament, we'll never know. What we do know is that the USA missed the player who registered 11 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in that narrow triumph against the Turks.
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What the Boston Celtics, Tatum's NBA team, and Tatum himself can also safely say is that he has matured into a better all-round player while working with the national team.
"PLAYING WITH USA BASKETBALL THIS SUMMER HAS A LOT TO DO WITH IT. WE WENT AFTER IT EVERY DAY IN PRACTICE, SOME OF THE BEST YOUNG PLAYERS IN THE LEAGUE. THAT WAS BIG."
"All of his experience, his successful rookie season, a good second season, USA Basketball, his summer work, just all the ups and downs that came with all three of those things are all part of his development," Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said to masslive.com.
"Playing with USA Basketball this summer has a lot to do with it," Tatum said. "Just getting that early work in this summer, it being super-competitive. We went after it every day in practice, some of the best young players in the league. That was big."
Tatum's coach, Brad Stevens, is certain the World Cup experience has helped Tatum take a big step in his career.
"I thought the U.S. stuff would benefit all those guys," he said. "But you can really see it with him."
Tatum believes he got better by spending his summer with USA Basketball
Tatum won three titles with the USA when he was a youngster. He had a starring role in the sides that won the 2013 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Men, the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship and the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship.
After a year at Duke University, where he played for former USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, Tatum has played for two seasons under Stevens.
"HE'S REALLY MADE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO TAKE THE RIGHT SHOTS AND NOT BE ANY LESS AGGRESSIVE."
In a pre-season win over the Charlotte Hornets, Tatum had 20 points and did a lot of other things well. No, he didn't accomplish his aim of capturing a title with the national team this summer, yet he still got a lot out of the experience.
"(He has a) different assertiveness in the right things," Stevens said. "I think he's practiced really hard. He's really made a conscious effort to take the right shots and not be any less aggressive. Like he's still very aggressive. And then he's defended… he's really been active. He's made nice strides."
And rest assured, Tatum demonstrated enough this summer with the USA that he'll definitely be a part of the program moving forward. Don't be surprised if he's on the roster when the Americans go for gold at the Olympics next year in Tokyo.