Ok, fill in the blank. Jayson Tatum is a _______ basketball player. Ask 10 people and you’ll probably get 10 different answers.
The Boston Celtics forward is a star. Some say superstar. Nobody has scored more points in the NBA this season than Tatum, but nobody has shot more. In his sixth NBA season, Tatum is a four-time All-Star who has improved season after season. He also struggled in the postseason last year and has not taken command in these playoffs. So where does Tatum stand? Is he overrated, underrated or somewhere in between?
Consistency was an issue for Jayson Tatum
Jayson Tatum helped the Celtics get over a significant hump last season. Prior to last year, the Celtics reached the Eastern Conference Finals three times in the past five years. They never made it to the championship round.
Tatum and the Celtics earned second place in the postseason, battling through a grueling playoff series. After defeating the Brooklyn Nets led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they knocked out the Milwaukee Bucks and then the top seeded Miami Heat, both in seven games. They ran out of gas against the Warriors and fell in Game 6 at home.
Tatum and Jaylen Brown, arguably the best tandem in the NBA, battled it out in the playoffs last year. Tatum had a game where he put the Celtics on their backs. That hit the road in Game 6 against the Bucks. With his team in a must-win situation, 3-2 in the series, Tatum scored 46 points and was the best player on the court. That being said, he and Brown had several costly turnovers during the playoffs and just didn’t perform.
It was similar for Tatum this year. He had 39 points in an embarrassing home loss in Game 1 to the undermanned Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. Philly played without league MVP Joel Embiid. However, Tatum had a field goal in the fourth quarter. In Game 2, Tatum had three more points (7) than personal fouls (4) and missed six of his seven shots in a Celtics win.
Is Tatum a top 5 player?
Celtics fans will most likely tell you that Tatum is a top 5 player in the NBA. He’s not on the level of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic or Embiid. He’s still not Stephen Curry, a player who can make it in times of crisis. Is he better than Luka Doncic? How about Kevin Durant? Lebron James?
Until he shows he can consistently pop up when needed, he’s not in the top five. If you have him in the top 5, he’s overrated. If he’s outside the top 10, you’re underestimating him. Tatum is somewhere in between.
Tatum is a great player. He has 30.1 points and 8.8 rebounds this year, both career records, but no one in the league has shot as much as he has in the last two seasons. He’s put the ball in the basket a lot more this year but has often struggled to land on the edge.
At Tatum, the numbers are there. He will now be judged on how far he takes his team. The Celtics are the top survivors in the Eastern Conference. Tatum has claimed he was particularly motivated after watching the Warriors celebrate last year’s championship on Boston’s home court.
The door is wide open for the Celtics and it’s a golden opportunity for Tatum to show he can’t lead them through.
#Jayson #Tatum #Overrated #Underrated
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