The 2021 All-Star starters were announced on TNT on Thursday night, and much to the disdain of Boston Celtics fans worldwide, Jaylen Brown was nowhere to be found. With that said, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the C’s breakout wing will hear his name called when the final seven reserve spots are announced on February 23rd. As for Brown’s running mate, Jayson Tatum? His inclusion is much further from a lock.
The beloved TNT crew did their best on Thursday to fill in the blanks, selecting who they believed will earn the nod as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve. As for Tatum, he was visibly vacant from both Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley’s selections. Contrastingly, panelist Kenny Smith and host Ernie Johnson each included Tatum in their reserve unit picks.
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Jayson Tatum Responds to Snub
Tatum didn’t catch wind about the snub from the two NBA Hall of Famers until a postgame conference following Boston’s 121-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
“Naw, I didn’t see that,” Tatum revealed to reporters. “I’m sure some people last year didn’t have me on there with who they thought they should have made it. I mean, I didn’t see it. So everybody has their opinion on who they think should make it. There’s a lot of guys that deserve to make it. And we’ll see.”
The NBA on TNT cast did all came to a consensus that Tatum’s teammate Jaylen Brown will notch his first career All-Star appearance, joining the likes of James Harden, Domantas Sabonis and Julius Randle as unanimous selections among the crew. As for the other three slots, Ben Simmons and Zach LaVine led the way, each receiving three votes apiece. Trae Young, who recently went for 40 points against the Celtics on Wednesday, joined Tatum with two votes. While Heat wing Jimmy Butler and Sixers standout Tobias Harris closed things out with one vote each.
You can see each analyst’s picks below:
Is Jayson Tatum an All-Star?
In the words of Charles Barkley, “this ain’t lifetime achievement award.” A sound observation, until you realize that quote arose from his defense of choosing Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson over Lakers star Anthony Davis for his Western Conference All-Star team.
Barkley does make a valid point though. If we were basing things strictly off of talent, Tatum would be a home-run selection. However, there are obviously other factors in play here.
Tatum missed five games early this year due to testing positive for COVID-19. A diagnosis the Celtics star recently admitted is still causing negative effects. Despite concerns over stamina, his usage rate since returning has been through the roof and he currently averages 35.2 minutes per game, tied for 15th-most in the NBA. Unfortunately, his presence hasn’t lent itself well to adding victories to the win column of late, as Boston bosts just a .500 record with eight games remaining until the break.
As for his statistical output this season, it certainly lends itself to an All-Star nod. A first-time selection in 2020, Tatum has seen his numbers take a sizeable leap forward, namely offensively, this season. He’s currently averaging a career-high in points (25.8 ppg) while shooting nearly 45% from the field. Furthermore, he’s flaunted vast growth as a ballhandler this year. Tasked with unreliable guard play for much of the season, Tatum has shouldered a more predominant role as a distributor, delivering a personal-best 4.7 assists per game, a 2.5 jump from his previous career average of 2.2 assists.
While Shaq and Barkley may not view Tatum as an All-Star this season, others clearly do. The forward joined Brown, giving the Celtics two top-five vote getters at their respective positions in the final fan voting results.
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