(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
In the toughest game the Celtics have played all season Jayson Tatum was lights out. On Wednesday, November 20, the Celtics faced off against a Clippers team that was at full strength with Paul George returning from his injury. In primetime, with Gordon Hayward out and the next three top options on the team in Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart all shooting a combined 27% from the field and a measly 18% from 3pt range, Jayson Tatum rose to the occasion. His presence on the floor could not be overstated as he scored 30 points on 50% shooting and sent the game into overtime with his killer crossover 3pt shot over Paul George. This reemergence of Tatum could be expected after having a remarkable rookie campaign he fell into a slump and was often overlooked on the depth chart last season.
Last season Tatum was sixth on the depth chart in terms of touches per game. With Kyrie Irving and Al Horford both leaving it has opened up many more opportunities for Tatum to shine and he has clearly taken advantage. With Hayward out for a month with a broken hand he can take full control of the reigns and truly establish himself as the top scoring option on the team. This year his minutes have increased to 34.4 per game from 31.1 per game last year. With this trust from the coaching staff Tatum is attempting 5 more shots per game than he was last year. It is obvious that as one of the top options on the team this season Jayson’s confidence has risen alongside the greater responsibility.
Tatum and Jaylen Brown are one of the best duos in the league this season. Their specific skillsets compliment each other incredibly well and cause so many mismatches on the defensive side of the ball. Tatum’s length and shooting paired with Brown’s athleticism and off the dribble scoring create quite the one-two punch for the Celtics. This is the perfect time for the duo in the league as versatile wings control the game now. Offensively they can spread the floor due to their threat of long range shooting and their ability to attack the rim. On the defensive side of the ball this duo is completed with the mention of Marcus Smart. This man is a beast on defense because he can use his size to bully smaller guards.
Sometimes players, like Tatum, just need a little shakeup and attention to get going again. As this season has progressed it is obvious that Tatum didn’t lose his “edge” per se but was too often overlooked by his own team. Through the departures of certain bad teammates (Kyrie Irving) and the additions of better teammates like Kemba Walker, Tatum has thrived and is showing the league his true value.