Celtics fans have been raving about Jayson Tatum’s potential since his impressive rookie season. His performance in the 2018 playoffs proved that he was ready for the big stage at age 19, and it was understood that the dysfunction of last year’s Celtics was the only thing holding him back from taking a giant leap in his sophomore campaign. Now only 21, the former third overall pick has spent the past year going from really good with an incredibly high ceiling, to a certified All-Star, to playing like one of the top five players in the NBA for an entire month.
The kid made a statement in February. The elevation of his play alone has carried the Celtics into the discussion of title contenders. Despite Kemba Walker missing seven of their last 11 games and the Raptors winning 17 out of 19, the C’s have gone 14-3 in their last 17 and find themselves just one game behind Toronto for the two-seed.
Tatum has been lights out every single night. He dropped 39 in a big win against the Clippers two weeks ago. His 41-point performance at the Staples Center last Sunday led LeBron James to call him “an absolute problem”. Then he kept it going with 36 in Portland and 33 plus 11 boards in Utah. He’s a lock for the Eastern Conference Player of the Month. Just take a look at the numbers:
Jayson Tatum's Averages in February (11 games):
51.4% from the field
50% from 3
78% on free-throws
— Jack Bardsley (@bb4jbards) February 27, 2020
Jayson Tatum has become the first player in NBA history to shoot 60% from the field on at least 20 field goal attempts and 5 three-point attempts in 3 straight games.
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) February 27, 2020
He’s still the age of a college student, and he’s doing whatever he wants against whoever steps in his way. His game is becoming more and more polished as he builds a repertoire of unguardable moves. The step-back, the fadeaway, the up-and-under, the 30 foot bombs, getting to the rim effortlessly. With his size, length, and ball-handling ability, his bag of tricks is quickly becoming one of the most lethal in the entire sport.
Trading down to draft Tatum instead of Markelle Fultz is the most ingenious decision that Danny Ainge has made during his tenure as Celtics’ General Manager. That move alone will preserve his career for a long time.