The 1 Celtics Talent Who Is Set To Shock The NBA This Season
The NBA is just right around the corner with media day kicking off on Monday and training camps set to begin. The Boston Celtics, in particular, look to bounce back from a rather disappointing 2020-21 campaign. Boston went just 36-36 last season and bowed out in five games in the first round of the playoffs to the Brooklyn Nets. Their early postseason exit certainly isn’t the ideal next step for the Cs, considering they just made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020.
With a downer last year, the Celtics, for the most part, are not in the conversation as a favorite in the Eastern Conference. Many view the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, the loaded, superstar-laden Brooklyn Nets, and the new-look Miami Heat a notch above them. Boston figures to use this as a fuel this upcoming campaign and look to be a dark horse contender.
In the same way, this Celtics star, or should we say superstar, could be on his way to shocking the entire NBA this season. That guy is none other than Jayson Tatum.
Everybody knows Tatum is going to be the leader that will steer Boston’s ship this season. The Celtics will only go as far as their 23-year old superstar will take them. But in terms of his overall standing in the league, Tatum will establish himself as one of the best players in the NBA and will be an MVP candidate for the 2021-22 season.
This will be a shocking development this upcoming campaign since not many consider the 2017 no. 3 overall pick to be a top-10 player in the league. In their recently released player rankings, ESPN listed JT as the 14th best player in the NBA.
Still, an MVP caliber 2021-22 campaign for Tatum should very well be within reach, especially if he leads Boston to a top-3 seed in the East. The Celtics made massive changes this offseason and have established decent depth across all positions. Perhaps their biggest move was trading All-Star guard Kemba Walker. With Walker gone, the ball should be in Tatum’s hands more this year and that should translate to even more insane numbers for the former Duke star.
Tatum has made massive strives in each of his four seasons in the NBA. From averaging 14.8 points combined through his first two years, the 2-time All-Star’s scoring averages jumped to 23.4 points in 2019-20 and 26.4 points in 2020-21.
His increased point production is a result of, not just increased opportunities, but also his steady efficiency from the field and better shot selection. In his rookie and sophomore seasons, Tatum often settled for long and rather inefficient midrange pullups. But over the last two years, while he still utilizes his deadly midrangers in his arsenal and is very much capable of hitting them, the 6-foot-8 wing has made it a point to attack the basket more or find ways to get open on the perimeter. In connection to getting in the paint, Tatum has also emphasized on getting more trips to the freethrow line, which is often a recipe for success for the top scorers in the NBA.
His playmaking has also steadily progressed as seen with his increasing assist numbers through the years. In 2020-21, Tatum averaged 4.3 assists. He should grow further in that department as the Celtics entrust him with more ballhandling this season.
The St. Louis, Missouri native is also slowly establishing himself on the other end of the floor. Boasting a 6-foot-11 wingspan, Tatum is finally figuring out how to take advantage of his length and versatility on defense. He also put on some muscle this season, which should further help him taking on the bigger, elite forwards in the NBA.
If Tatum takes another leap this upcoming campaign as he’s shown in each of the previous three, he could very well be in the running for the Maurice Podoloff trophy in 2021-22.