If Jayson Tatum hasn’t already achieved superstar status (probably a big if at this point) the Boston Celtics forward is clearly on the cusp of doing so. His team may be in the midst of an up-and-down campaign, but the former No. 3 overall pick is soaring higher than ever as a player.
Since April 9, Tatum has scored 44 or more points on three separate occasions. For his latest trick, he dropped a career-high 60 points to lead his team to a historic comeback win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
Consequently, the 23-year-old was awarded Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. It was the second time he earned the distinction in the last month.
Tatum isn’t just earning high marks for his play during short periods of time, though. He’s getting namechecked as one of the best players in the Association.
On Tuesday, The Ringer published its list of the NBA’s top 25 players and Tatum was among its selections. His placement on the list will undoubtedly be a point of contention for some fans, but his inclusion alone still speaks volumes about the seismic leap he has made this season.
However, in spite of his own mammoth efforts on the hardwood, another Celtics star was noticeably absent from the rankings.
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Tatum Lands Just Inside Top 20
Per The Ringer’s list — which was compiled by a panel including analysts Dan Devine, J. Kyle Mann, Rob Mahoney and Kevin O’Connor — Tatum is currently the 17th-best player in the NBA.
“As always, it’s the balance that impresses most. Tatum is the kind of star who keeps every option open, allowing teammates to be their best selves and Celtics coach Brad Stevens to troubleshoot as needed. If it’s easiest for Tatum to go to work from the midpost or top of the arc, he can—but his game is no less effective if he’s moved around the floor, across positions, or between defensive matchups. Any two-way player of Tatum’s size is an incredible strategic luxury, but his technical prowess has made him indispensable.
“The only reason Boston’s season feels underwhelming is because Tatum is good enough to raise expectations.”
Over 58 games to date, Tatum has averaged 26.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest. In keeping with his Ringer ranking, he is currently No. 17 league-wide in VORP and box plus/minus.
Jaylen Brown Left Out
Tatum isn’t the only All-Star in Beantown, nor is he the only one who has taken his game to a new level in 2020-21. Jaylen Brown is also playing the best basketball of his career by a substantial margin.
The fifth-year wing is putting up 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per contest this season. He has also been more efficient offensively than Tatum, scoring almost 1.3 points per shot attempt and boasting an effective field goal percentage of 55.8.
However, that wasn’t good enough to net him a spot among the league’s 25 best players, according to The Ringer.
The full list looks as follows:
- 1. Nikola Jokic, DEN
- 2. LeBron James, LAL
- 3. Joel Embiid, PHI
- 4. Stephen Curry, GSW
- 5. Kevin Durant, BKN
- 6. Kawhi Leonard, LAC
- 7. Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL
- 8. James Harden, BKN
- 9. Anthony Davis, LAL
- 10. Luka Doncic, DAL
- 11. Damian Lillard, POR
- 12. Chris Paul, PHX
- 13. Zion Williamson, NOP
- 14. Paul George, LAC
- 15. Jimmy Butler, MIA
- 16. Kyrie Irving, BKN
- 17. Jayson Tatum, BOS
- 18. Rudy Gobert, UTA
- 19. Bradley Beal, WAS
- 20. Devin Booker, PHX
- 21. Julius Randle, NYK
- 22. Donovan Mitchell, UTA
- 23. Bam Adebayo, MIA
- 24. Jrue Holiday, MIL
- 25. Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
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