Celtics second year sensation, Jayson Tatum, is on his way to becoming a superstar in this league. He is ahead of schedule, and in full effect this season.
The Boston Celtics choice to trade down to third pick, and take on an extra first round pick (2019 Lakers) proved to be another masterclass from general manager, Danny Ainge. With the third round pick, the Celtics, took the player that they would have taken with the first spot, in small forward Jayson Tatum, out of Duke.
Tatum was one of the more NBA-ready players in the draft, and he made an impact all through his rookie 2017-18 season. With new recruit Gordon Hayward going down in the season opener, leading to the 2017 All-Star missing the entire year, Tatum seized a bigger role to play than any other rookies had.
Tatum had no choice but to adapt to the league’s competitiveness as soon as possible and he did just that. Over 80 games, all starts, the budding youngster recorded 13.9 PPG and 5.0 RPG, reaching the All-Rookie First Team.
His points per game total improved to 18.5 in the postseason, as he was pivotal in helping the Celtics reach the Eastern Conference Championship round, where they fell short to the Cavaliers, in 7 games.
Now in his second season, Tatum has made strides to become even greater, this last offseason. According to Tatum, he has gained 7-pounds of muscle mass, and worked with the likes of Kobe Bryant over the summer. His improvement is clearly evident through five games, but the scary thing is he still has room to grow throughout the season and beyond.
With the Celtics beginning the season at 2-2, they improved to 3-2 on Thursday night, following a signature-Celtics comeback win, on the road. They defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-95, with Tatum contributing 24 points.
It hasn’t been the best of starts for Boston, lacking plenty on the offensive end, but making up for it on the defensive side. Tatum’s athleticism has shown, and he’s a strong defender in this league, already.
It has become clear, through the first five games of the year, that Tatum has taken his game to a new level. If he can can continue to put up 20+ PPG, the Celtics offense will be even more potent than expected. Tatum has already scored at least 20 points in three of the Celtics five games, all wins.
With Kyrie Irving the go-to scorer, last year, Tatum’s growth will allow some of the workload to be taken off Irving, so he can focus on running the offense, and shooting fewer shots. More scoring options will allow for a more balanced offensive set, and no reliance on any one player.
With the likes of Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford starting with Tatum, there are plenty of other offensive options. Put this together with the more than capable scorers on the bench, the Celtics’ ability to score more often should develop with time. However, for them to try and get to the number 1 seed in the East, it will have to be put together quite quickly, as there is little time, now, with the season well and underway.
The Celtics remain one of the great teams in the NBA. Tatum will play a huge role for this Celtics team and with comparisons between him and Bryant and the great Paul Pierce, being made, pressure may also come with this. But, Tatum has shown that he is ready and is as calm as they come. Number 0 can be a superstar in this league, and he’s in the right place to do it.