Move over John Stockton, there’s a new assist king in the NBA and his name is Jayson Tatum. Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves that much. The Boston Celtics superstar showcased his elite playmaking skills in Game 1 vs. the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, but perhaps it isn’t time to crown a new king just yet.
Tatum did not exactly have a dream start to his first NBA Finals appearance in Game 1 in terms of his scoring, but he definitely made up for it by getting his teammates involved. The Celtics star dished out no less than seven assists in the opening half, en route to matching a 15-year record held by Utah Jazz legend John Stockton (h/t ESPN Stats & Info on Twitter):
Jayson Tatum didn’t have his best scoring half, but he did rack up 7 assists in the first two quarters of Game 1. That’s the most assists in a half of a player’s NBA Finals debut since John Stockton had 7 in the second half of Game 1 against the Bulls in 1997.
Jayson Tatum didn't have his best scoring half, but he did rack up 7 assists in the first two quarters of Game 1.
That's the most assists in a half of a player's NBA Finals debut since John Stockton had 7 in the second half of Game 1 against the Bulls in 1997. pic.twitter.com/a2MpK41pgj
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 3, 2022
It was Stephen Curry and his record-breaking first quarter that stole the show on Thursday night, but Tatum and the Celtics were not to be outdone. Any team could have easily folded after a red-hot Curry drained a mind-blowing six triples in the opening period, but to their credit, Boston kept the game close. It goes without saying that Tatum and his playmaking definitely played a key role in this.