Jayson Tatum’s star is rising, there’s no doubt about it – because that’s what happens when you out-perform Kevin Durant in the playoffs.
As the Boston Celtics methodically swept the Brooklyn Nets, we were left with no doubt about Tatum’s credentials as a future superstar. Everything is finally coming together for the St. Louis native, his passing game has reached an elite level, shot selection is meticulous, and his defense is currently at an All-NBA level.
This version of Tatum has been years in the making, and there will undoubtedly be multiple players and coaches who have imparted wisdom onto the young star along the way. And, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, former Celtic Kyrie Irving deserves some of the credit for Tatum’s recent ascension, as does Kevin Durant, who Tatum just battled in the playoffs.
“Can we give it up to Jayson Tatum, he’s grown, he’s taken the next step in his career defensively, the way he played on that end of the floor. He learned a lot from Kyrie Irving as much as that break up happen, and he learned a lot from Kevin Durant and playing with him at Team USA last year, and you’re seeing him, he’s blossoming, he’s shining right before our eye,” Charania said during an interview on the Pat McAfee Show.
Tatum Has Earned his Star Status
Since entering the NBA, everybody has envisioned Tatum eventually becoming a star, and little by little, we’ve seen the developments with our own eyes. First, it was his ability to be the offensive focal point on a team, then his off-ball defense improved, and over the last 18 months, the passing has come on leaps and bounds.
But, there was always still the question of if the 24-year-old could raise his game when facing other superstar players. Against the Nets, we got the answer, and now, the expectations surrounding Tatum are higher than ever before as the team heads into the second round to take on the Milwaukee Bucks.
Throughout his first four games in the playoffs, Tatum is averaging 29.5 points, 7.3 assists, and 3.5 rebounds per game on 45.6% shooting and 41.9% from three-point range. If the fifth-year wing can sustain that type of production throughout the remainder of the post-season, he will be seen as a bonafide superstar and a future face of the NBA.
“Jayson Tatum has been utterly brilliant. Every single checkmark you need to become a superstar, he’s either done or is in the process of doing. I know he scored 39 (in game three on April 23), but that isn’t shocking. With this level of defense, even the biggest Jayson Tatum fans did not see this two-way performance coming,” Nick Wright recently said of Tatum.
Celtics to Face Milwaukee Next
On Wednesday, April 27, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Chicago Bulls to win their first-round series and set up a date with the Boston Celtics. The first game between these two teams is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 1, at the TD Garden.
While the Bucks would have been considered favorites just a few weeks ago, Khris Middleton’s absence due to an MCL sprain has significantly weakened the Bucks’ chances of progressing. However, when Giannis Antetokounmpo is in your ranks, anything is possible.
Boston will need to be at its best if they wish to move on to the conference finals and beyond. But, this is the perfect test for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who have both been walking the walking in recent weeks. It’s easy to forget that Milwaukee is currently the reigning NBA champions, but the Celtics will do well to remember that and ensure they respect their opponents, whoever may be absent from the rotation.