Celtics coach Udoka eager to help Tatum, Brown get even better


The Boston Celtics will go as far as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown take them next season, and new head coach Ime Udoka is excited to work with those two young stars and help them reach their full potential.

Udoka was officially introduced Monday morning as the Celtics' 18th coach in franchise history. He takes over for Brad Stevens, who recently replaced Danny Ainge as the team's president of basketball operations.

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One of the keys to Udoka having a successful tenure in Boston is getting the most out of Tatum and Brown -- the team's two-best players and building locks for short- and long-term success.

"It's something you see, and the perception of them outside of this organization is All-NBA players, MVP-caliber players," Udoka explained at his introductory press conference when asked about Brown and Tatum.

"Getting to know them over the last few years, you can see their growth. They've taken huge leaps this past year and we look forward to them continuing that progress. It's my job to put them in situations to be successful and push them to be greater. The sky is the limit with those guys."

Tatum's 2020-21 season was his best as a pro. He averaged 26.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, all of which were career highs. He also was named an All-Star for the second consecutive season. Tatum was a third-team All-NBA selection in 2019-20 and just missed receiving that honor again in 2021.

Brown also had the best season of his career in 2020-21. He set career highs by averaging 24.7 points, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He also shot a career-best 39.7 percent from 3-point range. Brown was selected to his first All-Star Game this season, too. 

The Celtics need several other players besides Brown and Tatum to improve next season for the team to get back to a championship-caliber level. But if Brown and Tatum continue to get better -- and they should, based on their impressive growth so far -- that challenge will get a little easier. 

Udoka already has a relationship with Tatum and Brown after working with them at Team USA practices and events. It's a tremendous starting point to build on as the 2021-22 season approaches.

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