While it has taken a team effort for the Boston Celtics to find themselves sporting the best record in the association, leading the charge all season has been franchise cornerstone Jayson Tatum, who is soundly in the early-season running for the league’s MVP award.
Many C’s fans believe him to be the current favorite to take home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy come year’s end, but Dan Favale of Bleacher Report wrote that Tatum is more deserving of the third-best odds to win the award, according to his November 29 rankings.
“Steady is Jayson Tatum’s stock. Dropping one spot from the last MVP ladder had less to do with the man himself and more to do without the repeated eruptions of the names to come,” Favale wrote in reference to second-ranked Steph Curry and first-ranked Luka Doncic.
Favale wrote that Tatum had shown lapses in his scoring prowess but made up for it by keying in on and improving upon other aspects of his game.
“Tatum’s three-point clip has ducked below 31 percent these past couple of weeks, but he offset the dip with stellar shooting inside the arc (53.7 percent on twos since the last ladder) and career-best free-throw volume,” Favale wrote.
“His defense has been instrumental to the Boston Celtics’ inching back up the stopping-power hierarchy despite their odd lack of forced turnovers, and he’s averaging 6.8 assists(!) over the past couple of weeks.
“The Celtics have lost just once since the last ladder and have the league’s best offense and net rating. Tatum props up that dominance without needing to monopolize possessions as a playmaker or scorer.”
Favale ended his Tatum section of the rankings by saying that Tatum, 24, might not be able to “leap-frog” either Curry or Doncic by season’s end but that ranking in the top five in the MVP running could wind up being the floor throughout his career.
Through these infancy stages of the season, Tatum is boasting stupendous all-around averages of 30.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on 48.1% shooting from the floor and 34.7% shooting from distance.
Doncic Says Celtics Have ‘Best Duo’ in NBA
Favale ranked Doncic No. 1 in his MVP rankings, but Doncic praised Tatum and, more specifically, said he and Jaylen Brown make up arguably the best dynamic duo in the entire league.
“They’re probably the No. 1 team in the league, and they probably have the best duo in the league, too,” Doncic said, according to a November 23 ESPN story by Tim Bontemps.
Tatum and Brown are posting career-best statistics in virtually every statistical category, accumulating a combined 1,111 points, the most among any one-two punch.
Celtics Out on Atlanta Big?
In a November 21 HoopsHype story, longtime fan favorite trade target John Collins was listed by Michael Scotto as being a player whom the Atlanta Hawks could wind up parting with in the near future, considering their continually inflating salary situation.
An anonymous Eastern Conference executive recently told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that the Celtics’ trading for Collins is likely a pipe dream.
“It would cost them Marcus Smart, so the answer has to be no there. They’re not moving Smart,” the exec told Deveney. “In the summer, they were trying to make the offer they made for [Malcolm] Brogdon to a lot of teams, and Atlanta was one of them.
Though it is reported that the Boston Celtics are interested in bolstering their frontcourt rotation via trade this season, it’s clear that, at least to this executive, Brad Stevens and company will not be targeting Collins.
“You know, Aaron Nesmith and [Daniel] Theis and a whole bunch of filler and a first-round pick, but that was never going to be enough to get them Collins. A guy with Brogdon’s injury history, that was doable. But Collins is too good for that package.”