The time has officially come. For years, Celtics fans hoped and prayed for this to happen. They believed it could happen. I’m sure there were moments of doubt along the way. Even myself had doubts about it at times. However, now there is just simply no denying it.
Jayson Tatum is a top five player in the NBA today. He has firmly rooted himself as one of the best players to sport has to offer right now. He’s a legit superstar, and the basketball world has taken notice.
It’s still early in the season, but from what we’ve seen so far, Tatum has taken the big leap. The one that many were unsure if he could make. He’s been a star for sometime now, that is undeniable.
Yet there is a difference between star and superstar in my mind. The NBA is littered with stars. Superstars on the other hand are a rarity in the league. There’s only a handful of them, and being on that level is not easy.
Many questioned last year if Tatum had taken the step to superstardom. It was debatable for sure. Tatum at times last season looked the part of a superstar.
He averaged at the time a career high 26.9 PPG. He made his third career All-Star appearance. Tatum was named to the All-NBA first team for the first time ever. He lead the Celtics to their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.
So why didn’t I consider him a superstar then? Well, because Tatum struggled with consistency. Being a superstar isn’t having a great game every other night or every three games. It’s going out almost every single night and dominating like few can.
This year, that inconsistency seems to be gone. Through 25 games, Tatum is having the best year of his career. Take a look at some of his numbers and where they rank in his career:
- Points Per Game: 30.8 (1st)
- Rebounds Per Game: 8.3 (1st)
- Assists Per Game: 4.3 (2nd)
- Free Throw Percentage: 86.9% (1st)
- Field Goal Percentage: 48.0% (1st)
- Blocks Per Game: 1.0 (1st)
- Player Efficiency Rating (PER): 25.8 (1st)
You get the picture here. He’s the best he’s ever been. Offensively, he’s become the type of player who can (and possibly could this year) win a scoring title.
JAYSON TATUM FOR MVP NO DOUBT ABOUT IT pic.twitter.com/QUbaeOKS5y— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) December 1, 2022
More importantly, he is showing up night in and night out and delivering. If Kobe Bryant were here, I’m sure he’d be proud of his protégé.
Tatum is finally playing with that “Mamba Mentality”. His shot selection is stronger. His basketball IQ has improved so much. Tatum’s true shooting percentage currently sits at 62.4%, far and away the best number of his career.
He’s just playing so much smarter. Tatum’s also better utilizing his size. He’s not getting knocked around anymore. When Tatum drives to the hoop, it’s with authority. It’s with power.
He’s getting more contact and drawing more fouls. Tatum is attempting 8.3 free throws per game, by far his career high. He’s no Giannis, but Tatum has become a freight train driving into the paint.
He’s taking more threes than ever before, and hitting them at an effective 36.4% clip. Boston has the best record in the NBA (20-5), in large part due to Tatum’s consistent play.
He’s improved in literally almost every statistical category. This all coming off an insane career year last year. He’s taken the step from really really good to great. Tatum BELONGS in that class of Giannis, Jokic, Steph Curry, and Luka Doncic. Those are his equals now.
He’s firmly in the MVP race, to the point that Vegas Insider has him as the odds on favorite. The world has witnessed it. Boston and Celtics Nation has witnessed it. The potential is finally being fully realized. Jayson Tatum has blossomed into a full blown superstar right before our very eyes.
Featured Photo by David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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