Jayson Tatum Joins Celtics Legend Larry Bird With Historic Feat

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics

Getty Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics.

The Boston Celtics have had plenty of legendary basketball players in their time as a franchise. So to put up the same numbers as some of them in a single season is quite the accomplishment. Such is the case for Jayson Tatum. We all knew coming into this season how good Jayson Tatum is, but statistics like these certainly put things into perspective.

Taylor Snow mentioned the other day that Tatum’s averages of 25 points, eight rebounds, and four assists a game in one season is a feat that only two other Celtics have ever accomplished in their illustrious history: Larry Bird and John Havlicek.

When your name is brought up with those two – first-ballot Hall of Famers – and especially Bird, whose name still resonates with modern NBA fans these days, you know this is evidence of just how special Tatum is. Tatum established early on he had the makings of an elite scorer, but the averages he put up this season only further demonstrate his evolution as an all-around player.

If this play continues in the postseason, which is more than likely knowing Tatum’s postseason acumen, then that’s bad news for the Brooklyn Nets.

Tatum Stands Out Among Other Celtics Legends

When you see how rare Tatum’s statistical feat this year is on a team like the Boston Celtics, who are currently celebrating their 75th season as a franchise and just retired their 23rd number last month, you know just how impressive what Tatum has done is. By joining a statistical club joined only by the likes of Larry Bird and John Havlicek, Tatum also joins a club not accompanied by the likes of:

-Bill Russell
-Kevin McHale
-Dave Cowens
-Paul Pierce
-Jo Jo White
-Kevin Garnett
-Bob Cousy
-Tommy Heinsohn
-Robert Parish
-Sam Jones

All of whom won a championship(s), made multiple all-star games, and earned a place in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. A few of these names won MVP at some point in their career too. Yet none of these players put up the all-around numbers that Tatum did in the 2021-22 season.

(Note that Garnett came the closest out of the bunch to achieving the feat during his MVP season in the 2003-04 season where he averaged only 0.8 points less in Minnesota than what was required to be in this group.)

Jayson Tatum’s Numbers Aided by Modern Era

No matter what context you put it in, the averages that Jayson Tatum put up this season will always be impressive. Especially since he didn’t start out the year too well shooting-wise. Tatum not starting out too great then finishing the season strong has seemingly been his MO since the Celtics let him take the reins back in 2019.

However, what helped Tatum get his name associated with the likes of Larry Bird and John Havlicek in the previously mentioned category is the fact that he plays in a league that revolves around shooting three-pointers now more than ever. In another stat posted by Taylor Snow, Tatum hit the second-most three-pointers in a single season this year, trailing only Isaiah Thomas in 2016-17.

While hitting 230 threes in one NBA season sounds like child’s play nowadays, we have to remember that Havlicek and Bird played in completely different eras in which either the three-point shot didn’t exist (Havlicek) or shooting them wasn’t emphasized (Bird). If they had played with the modern NBA’s expectations, who knows what kind of numbers they would have put up?

This is not taking anything away from what Tatum has done this season because it’s clear as day he’s one of the league’s best modern scorers. This is only to point out that if guys who played as recently as Kevin Garnett were in today’s NBA, they would probably also be in that same elite group statistically as Tatum, Bird, and Havlicek.

Still, the modern NBA sets a high standard these days that Tatum has undoubtedly met this season. If anything, the fact that he’s hit as many as he has only further demonstrates how lethal of an all-around scorer he has truly become.

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