Even despite a loss in their most recent outing, Jayson Tatum and company have given Boston Celtics fans plenty to be excited about in recent weeks. The C’s have rallied off five victories over their last six games and boast a record of 16-3 over their past 19 contests.
Much like the Celtics, the Golden State Warriors are also enjoying a rejuvenation of sorts. After missing the postseason in back-to-back seasons, the Dubs have re-emerged as legitimate title contenders. Of course, Steph Curry and a healthy duo of Draymond Green and Klay Thompson will play a pivotal role in whether or not Golden State once again hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy this postseason. However, they won’t do so without the continued stellar play from a blossoming bevy of youngsters, headed by reigning No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga.
During the first half of the Warriors’ eventual 122-109 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, Kuminga made the most of his limited usage, scoring eight points, snatching seven rebounds and adding one block in just 11 minutes of play. His well-rounded efforts garnered the attention of Tatum, who fired off a tweet in regards to the rising 19-year-old.
Game Recognizes Game
Kuminga went on to finish the game with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes as Golden State cruised to a home victory over the defending champions. After the contest, the rookie joined NBC Sports’ “Warriors Live” where he expressed his gratitude for Tatum’s shoutout.
“I really appreciate that,” Kuminga said. “You know, it means a lot coming from a guy like him, dropping 50, 40 back-to-back. It’s really crazy, I didn’t expect him to know what I’m doing on the court. I really appreciate that.”
Through 57 games (eight starts) in 2021-22, Kuminga has averaged 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds. Over his last 18 games, his scoring average has jumped to 14.9 points.
As for Tatum, the Celtics star has inserted himself into the thick of the MVP race. Since the All-Star break, the 24-year-old phenom is averaging an outstanding 33.3 points per game, bumping his season average to a career-best 26.8. Tatum’s stellar play has skyrocketed the C’s up the Eastern Conference ranks. While they currently sit in fifth place, their 41 wins on the season are tied for the third-most in the conference. They also sit just 4.0 games behind the Miami Heat for the top seed in the East.
“Tatum is new to the MVP conversation this season. In fact, he went from being unranked among the top 10 spots to rising all the way to the No. 6 spot on the list— overtaking [Luka] Doncic in the rankings,” wrote Grant Afseth of Sports Illustrated.
“Both players have made their teams two of the best in the league if you only look at how they’ve played in 2022… It does seem a little too late for either Tatum or Doncic to truly overtake the whole MVP conversation to the point of winning the award this season,” he noted. “However, both players appear primed to be serious candidates throughout their careers. Regardless of what happens this year, Doncic and Tatum are primed for All-NBA honors at the very least.”
Tatum and Kuminga will face off on Wednesday, March 15 when the Warriors welcome the Celtics into Chase Center for a 10:00 p.m. ET showdown.
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