Irving clearly saw Tatum’s potential. Now, Tatum is leading a team that is just two wins away from earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Ky told me this is my time and to embrace that role and be that dude,” Tatum said of his conversation with Irving, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Despite all the criticism that Irving has gotten over the years for his lack of leadership, Tatum seems to have nothing but respect for the star point guard.
“Ky is like my big brother,” said Tatum. “We still talk to this day, and we’ve talked a few times these playoffs. He always encourages me to be special. Having that relationship with him and having somebody like him in my ear at a young age, it means a lot.
“You can steal from a lot of different guys — Ky, Kobe [Bryant] — but you have to do it your own way. I’m one of the youngest guys on this team but I know the role I have. I know how these guys view me and they value what I have to say. I want the best for everybody and I just want to win. I’ve been more outspoken this year.”
Tatum averaged 27.0 points and 9.8 rebounds in his team’s four-game sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. He also shot 48.7 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from the three-point line in those games.
Against the defending champion Toronto Raptors, Tatum is averaging 27.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He’s somehow increased his efficiency from deep in the current series and is averaging 50.0 percent from the arc.
Clearly, Tatum is making a name for himself this postseason.