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Jayson Tatum explains how the Olympics could help him become a ‘top 5 player’


“I spent half of my summer playing against the best players in the world.”

Jayson Tatum in the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game on Monday, October 4, 2021. AP Photo / Charles Krupa

As the Celtics prepare for a new season, Jayson Tatum is setting himself high goals where he wants to be as an individual and a team player.

“I just have to be better. I have to raise my level from being a top 10 to 15 player to a top 5 player, ”Tatum told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated in a recent interview. “I have to try to improve everyone around me.”

After spending part of his offseason helping the US team win gold at the Tokyo Olympics, Tatum returns to Boston after experiencing an extremely competitive environment among some of the best in the NBA.

“I plan to take back what I learned next season,” Tatum said. “I spent half of my summer playing against the best players in the world. I played against KD [Kevin Durant] in practice, Book [Devin Booker] and all these guys. I feel like I started the season early and take the next step. “

The road to Olympic glory was far from easy for Team USA. Notable pre-Olympic defeats against Australia and Nigeria were compounded by a loss to France in the tournament opener.

But in the end, the United States still found a way to emerge as champions. In the gold medal match – in which the Americans avenged the previous loss to France with an 87-82 victory – Tatum’s 19 points were only exceeded by Durant’s 29 (and the Celtics forward led the team with seven rebounds).

“It was amazing,” Tatum told Spears of the Olympic trip. “Obviously we had a rough start in Vegas in Game 1. It made it even sweeter. A lot of people doubted us. They were wondering if we could win or not.