Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are currently gearing up for what they hope is a run in the 2024 NBA playoffs that results in the franchise's first championship since the 2008 season 16 years ago. The Celtics finished this season with 64 wins–the most in the association by a country mile–and Tatum had no problem integrating new co-stars Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis into the fray while still continuing to play at a first-team All-NBA level.

One criticism that has been leveled at the Celtics, and Tatum in particular, over the years has been their propensity to fall short in end-of-game situations at times in the playoffs. There were several situations in the 2023 playoffs, for instance, that saw the Celtics completely fall apart in crunch-time, a flaw that called into question just how clutch Tatum really is.

One person who is hoping to reverse that narrative is famed NBA trainer Drew Hanlen, who recently broke down why the “Tatum isn't clutch” narrative doesn't have a whole lot of substance.

“If you look at Jayson over the last five years, I think he has one of the best clutch numbers in the NBA,” said Hanlen, per Mark Medina of Sportskeeda. “If you look back at some of the big moments in his career, you think of Game 6 against Milwaukee when they’re down 3-2 and he scores 46 against Giannis. He ends up having a great Game 7, and the Celtics end up winning that. In Game 6 (last year vs Sixers), he scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to come back and then scores 51 in Game 7 to send the Celtics to the next series. There are not many players in the world, if any, that I would want the ball in their hands at the end of the game more than Jayson.”

Is Jayson Tatum clutch?

The answer to that depends on how a person views the word “clutch.” As Hanlen described, Tatum does have more than a few big-time moments in his career when the pressure was on. However, many of the performances that Hanlen mentioned were high-pressure games but were not actually close down the stretch, which is where the word “clutch” truly comes into play.

Celtics fans have seen time and time again Tatum revert to isolation-heavy basketball in hunting for the last shot of a game, including twice this year in losses to the Atlanta Hawks as well as in a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, when perhaps passing the ball to one of his four All-Star caliber teammates would have been a better option.

Tatum often speaks of his affinity for the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant, which might explain that puzzling shot selection, but Bryant was one of just a few players in NBA history for which holding the ball until the end of the clock and then launching a contested fadeaway jumper is an optimal possession at the end of the game. For as great as he is, there is a large enough sample size now to definitively say that Tatum is not one of those players.