Yes, he got his lumps in the Finals, especially in Game 6 when his inability to solve what the Warriors defensively threw at him came to mind. It was disappointing to see him tired and confused with the season ahead.
But that’s often part of the process for young Superstars – that last step is said to be the hardest – and we know Tatum will put in the work to come back even better, maybe with a vengeance.
Jaylen Brown: As with Tatum, his work ethic is beyond reproach. But fixing what he needs to fix — aside from his clutch free-throw shooting — is more complicated than just hitting the gym hours.
He’s a superb goalscorer who has saved the Celtics more than once in the postseason with his individual skills. But if his shot doesn’t come off, what does he do to help the offense? He’s a bad dribbler for an NBA wing. He could be a decent passer if he didn’t wear blinders to the basket so often.
Brown has come back a little better each season of his career, but the next step in his development is the hardest. He has to come back with the willingness and know-how to make his teammates better.
Mark Smart: Here’s something I wondered about over the course of the finals: Had a circumstance that mirrors the last game of Game 1 of the Nets series – ball in Smart’s hands, clock running out, impending decision of whether to shoot or pass – surrendered to the Warriors Would Smart have made the right decision to concede the ball? I’m not sure.
Some of his decisions fell behind in the final, but it wasn’t just his case. So should they trade him? Oh come on, of course not. Their switch-everything defensive identity would take a big hit, and he made the most prolific offense in the NBA as a quarterback that season.
Robert Williams III: I think that’s true: The Celtics would have had a save last week if Williams hadn’t injured the meniscus in his right knee on March 27 against the Timberwolves. Their defense was still good as he played at 60 percent of his usual athleticism, but it didn’t choke.
What was odd was that his teammates still treated him as if he had his usual bounce, throwing him lobs that he had to bring down and collect before moving up.
We hope he returns to his pre-injury form as his breakthrough was perhaps the biggest joy of the regular season.
Al Horford: It kind of got lost in the… well, loss, but Horford, 36, played with the energy of a player ten years his junior in Game 6 of the final. He scored 19 points, rallied 14 rebounds and hit three threes in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics fleeting comeback hopes.
He’s been basically the same versatile, reliable player this season as he was in his first round here in 2016-19. He’s essential to their success and will be very difficult to replace when he finally ages sometime around 2033.
Derrick Weiss: His 21-point performance in Game 1 of the finals, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers, felt by the end of the series like it happened in a different time and place. White made just 1 of 10 shots in the last two games and missed all five of his 3-point attempts as the Warriors took advantage of the Celtics bench’s collective struggles.
White is a versatile player who suits him well due to his unselfish nature and he’s had some standout performances post-season (notably in Game 6 against the Heat) but the Celtics need to find a way to get him to come up with more to play trust.
Grant Williams: The craziest stat of the season? Williams’ 7-for-18 shooting from 3-point territory in Game 7 against the Bucks. They challenged him to beat them and he hit just enough to do it, scoring 27 points.
He’s blossomed into a valuable 3-and-D role player, but his limitations were revealed in the finals when he only scored 25 points overall.
His resolution for the new 2022/23 season should be: “No more barking at the referees.” But I’m not sure if he knows that.
Payton Pritchard: When his shot falls, he can be a dynamo. If not, there’s no reason to have him on the floor. Unfortunately, he went cold when the stakes were highest, hitting just 1 of 11 3-point attempts in the final five games of the finals. He will fight back.
Daniel Theis: He had some decent playoff moments when Rob Williams was limited or out, including 11 points in 11 minutes in Game 3 against the Bucks. But after that he was pretty much unplayable; He was minus 57 from the start of the Miami series. Bringing him back was a decent risk that didn’t work.
Aaron Nesmith: i am a believer He can be a 3-and-D guy — or maybe a slash-and-D guy if the shot never comes — if he just slows the game down a bit. “Crash” is the most appropriate nickname for a Celtic since “Big Baby” Glen Davis.
The Bank Brigade: Sam Hauser is a legit knock-down shooter and possibly on the way from Max Strus. I hope he stays with it…I thought we might have seen a crazy performance from Nik Stauskas where he took 12 points in 2½ minutes but it never happened…I have no idea if Malik Fitts can play but I hope they just mistake him for his enthusiasm for Overzealous Bench Guy… Luke Kornet stays tall… Last but not least, Juwan Morgan, Matt Ryan and Broderic Thomas collected some great memories to share with their future G-League teammates.
Chad Finn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeChadFinn.