Jayson Tatum has taken a tremendous leap in his third year in the NBA. The 22-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the league and after his eye-opening performance in the 2019-2020 season, many believe Tatum is the newest superstar in the NBA.
With the departure of Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn, Boston was in need of a primary scorer to replace him, which they found in Jayson Tatum. Throughout the season, Tatum has led the Boston Celtics to a 43-21 record, enough for the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference.
Before the season’s hiatus, Tatum was on a rampage. In his last 23 games, the 6-foot-8 forward had averaged 27.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, and 1.5 spg; these performances have allowed Tatum to covertly enter the MVP conversation. Although Tatum will most likely not win the award, being in the conversation as only a third year player is highly impressive.
Scouts were convinced Jayson Tatum was going to be a star, but they were never sure when. As a rookie, he showed flashes of greatness, helping lead Boston to an Eastern Conference Finals Game 7. However, in his second year, he showed little improvement in his game. As a sophomore, Tatum’s field goal and three-point percentages dipped from his rookie year and he only averaged 1.8 more points per contest. But after an offseason of training and improvement, Tatum has transformed himself into one of the best players in the east, receiving his first All-Star selection. This season, Tatum has been a true first option for the Celtics; his USG% has bumped from 22.1% in the 2018-2019 season to 28.6% this year. Tatum is also seen as an elite defensive player with the athleticism and length toguard the 1 through 5, central to Brad Stevens’ switch scheme to defend ball screens. He has gained the tendency to disrupt the passing lanes for opponents who misjudge Tatum’s length, averaging 1.5 steals and 1 block per game
While the 22-year-old has room for improvement on both ends of the court, his growth over the last year is pushing him towards the top of the league on offense and defense. 538’s RAPTOR player ratings see him as a Top 20 offensive player and a Top 50 defender, a status shared only by Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kawhi Leonard.
With a few more years under his belt, Jayson Tatum can potentially be the premier player of the NBA, and he is well on his way already.