Over the last several weeks, the Boston Celtics have been one of the hottest teams in the National Basketball Association, and they have thus placed themselves into the discussion of who will win the championship this year.
Perhaps the chief reason why is All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, who has played extremely well of late.
After getting off to a slow start (by his standards) early in the season, he has come on like gangbusters more recently.
His outstanding play down the stretch has had some asking whether he is worthy of winning the Most Valuable Player award.
Jayson Tatum in his last 20 games:
All-NBA First Team. pic.twitter.com/377Ej8L5AZ
— TatumMuse (@TatumMuse0) April 6, 2022
As of now, the frontrunners for that honor seem to be the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has already won it twice, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, and the Denver Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic, who was last year’s MVP.
The odds of Tatum getting the award this season don’t seem that great, but he may be positioning himself to be its frontrunner in 2023.
He Is An Amazing Scorer
In his first two seasons, there didn’t seem to be anything impressive about Tatum.
Although he helped lead the Celtics to the brink of the Eastern Conference title as a rookie, some thought he didn’t have superstar potential, as he averaged a modest 14.8 points a game in his first two years.
But in the 2019-20 campaign, he blossomed, boosting his numbers to 23.4 points per game, and last season he bumped it up further to 26.4 points per game.
He has elite scoring ability at all three levels, especially at or near the rim, where his strong 6-foot-8 frame makes him nearly impossible to stop, as well as from beyond the 3-point line.
call me crazy but this play, to me, shows a huge maturation in jayson tatum. instead of throwing up his arms looking to the refs for the call, he lowers his shoulders and beats the contact, then flexes on the defense. that's MVP mentality right there. pic.twitter.com/hezkv8p6vF
— extremely joyous celtics fan (@ha3mhu) April 3, 2022
Tatum is also a good rebounder who is averaging 8.0 boards per game this season, and a growing number of people feel he is approaching an elite level on defense.
A Strong Postseason Could Seed The Idea Of Tatum Being Next Year’s MVP
The NBA playoffs are where the reputations of superstars are made, and many in New England feel the Celtics have a real shot at winning the world championship this year, particularly if defensive anchor Robert Williams returns soon enough.
Last year, Boston got manhandled in the opening round of the postseason by the Brooklyn Nets, but Tatum still excelled, putting up 30.6 points per game.
This year, Tatum can tattoo the idea that he deserves to be one of next season’s favorites for the MVP by leading the Celtics to at least the conference finals while putting up big points and doing so efficiently.
Efficiency is still a key for Tatum, as his shooting percentages are still somewhat up and down.
This season he has shot 45.0 percent from the field, which is solid, but his 3-point percentage has fallen from 38.6 percent last year to 34.8 percent this year.
On the other hand, he has already had some huge games in huge moments this season, such as his 54-point whopper versus the Brooklyn Nets a few weeks ago.
Nets (32 – 33) @ Hornets (32 – 33)
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Spread: BKN: -3.5 (@FDSportsbook)
Brooklyn has lost 4 in a row, including their most recent loss to Boston where Jayson Tatum went for 54 points
— Buzzer Beats (@buzzerbeats) March 8, 2022
Tatum’s confidence seems to be soaring, and reportedly he even talked some trash to one of the favorites for this year’s MVP.
NBA trainer Drew Hanlen was reportedly with Joel Embiid when Jayson Tatum called Embiid.
Before Tatum hung up the phone, he told Embiid this:
“You better win MVP this year because I’m gonna get it next year.”
— ProCity Hoops (@ProCityHoops) March 31, 2022
If the Celtics finish with a top-two seed next season, the award could be all his.