Jayson Tatum is having himself a month to remember for the Boston Celtics.
The recent entrant to the 24-year-old club is averaging 42.0 points on 55.8% field goal and 46.3% three-point shooting, to go with 6.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in four games in March. The Celtics have won all four of those games by an average margin of 10.5 points.
Tatum’s climb up the Most Valuable Player ladder is likely to be too little too late, but he is setting himself up for the league’s highest individual honor next season— but even more importantly, he is setting his team up for a potential Larry O’Brien trophy.
Jayson Tatum Enters Superstardom
There are only a handful of superstars in the National Basketball Association: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, and the list might end there.
To be a superstar, a player must be among the elite of the elite, play an exciting brand of ball, be marketable, play for a winning team, and be consistent in their output every night— that’s why James Harden had his membership revoked.
Even Nikola Jokic, last year’s MVP and top-two candidate for this year’s award, is not considered a superstar despite averaging 26.1 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 8.1 assists with the best Player Efficiency Rating in the league. Why? Because he does not have a sellable personality— not that there’s anything wrong with him, it just goes to show how restrictive the superstar club is.
So, let’s check the boxes. Jayson Tatum has been hovering around the top-15 player in the league mark for a couple of seasons, and his recent play has vaulted him into the top-10 area; he is flashy and can pull up for a fadeaway three or dunk on anyone’s head, depending on his mood; he is getting better at establishing himself as the dominant leader in a locker room that has suddenly gone quiet (in a good way); Boston has won 15 of its last 17 games and currently occupies the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed; and he is finally adding consistency to his game.
The criteria are being met— he just needs to stand the test of time.
Boston is the Best Team in the East
Okay, this is a nice thought and could be argued based on their play in recent months, and especially recent weeks. Until they take down a dominant power like the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, or Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs, however, it is an unvalidated claim.
I know, I know, but it’s the truth.
The good news for Celtics fans is that their team has been performing at an elite level offensively and the highest level in the league defensively since December, even with Jaylen Brown coming in and out of the lineup.
Tatum also does not seem afraid of the moment, as seen in his 50-point explosion against Brooklyn last playoffs. If the supporting cast can keep doing their job at a supreme level, Boston is poised to finally get over the hump and contend for an NBA Finals for the first time in the Brown-Tatum era.
There is no team in basketball playing better than the Boston Celtics: let’s see how long it lasts.