To begin the season, Jayson Tatum was being discussed as a potential MVP candidate due to his stellar performances for the Boston Celtics.
However, as the season has worn on, Tatum has become increasingly inconsistent, thus hampering his chances of receiving the prestigious individual award. When speaking on a March 20 episode of The Hoop Collective, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon discussed Tatum’s current season and his overall standing in the NBA, noting how he is currently a ‘second-tier superstar.’
“Jayson Tatum is a hell of a player,” MacMahon said. “He is a second-tier superstar. He is not, he might end up on MVP ballots, but he’s not a real MVP candidate. He is not near the level of Joel Embiid, he’s not near the level of Giannis Antetokounmpo, he’s become more and more reliant on the three-point shot and for four straight years, the volume has gone up and the percentage has gone down.”
Tatum, 25, is currently averaging 30 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 45.7% from the field and 34.5% from three-point range, which is indeed superstar-level numbers.
Celtics Analyst Questions Tatums’ Shot Selection
During a March 19 episode of The Locked’ On Celtics podcast, analyst John Karalis discussed Tatum being tasked with shooting a pull-up three in the dying moments of Boston’s loss to the Utah Jazz as the team looked to gain an advantage in a two-for-one opportunity.
“What I didn’t like was the Tatum pull up, which, Joe Mazzulla after the game is like, ‘I’ll take that 100 times out of 100.’ And every game, I’m like, ‘really? Because he’s gonna miss 70 times.’” Karalis said. “There’s no reason to expect that he was going to go and have this big, big moment, other than he’s Jayson Tatum. But you know what? I’m tired of that. I’m tired of that notion. Because he’s not there. He hasn’t earned, ‘well, he’s Jayson Tatum.’ He just hasn’t earned that. He hasn’t…He’s not Giannis. He’s not Steph. He’s not KD. He’s not at that level, where you’ve earned the well, ‘he’s insert name. Of course you want him taking that shot.’ I don’t think he’s there.”
The Celtics need Tatum to be operating at a top-10 level if they want to return to the NBA Finals and potentially win a championship, yet, since returning from the All-Star break, the St. Louis native has looked behind the pace and could potentially be in need of a rest.
Brian Scalabrine Questions Celtics’ Defense
Beyond Tatum’s recent struggles, the Celtics have also had issues closing out games and have recently begun a trend of letting their leads slip away due to an inability to shut up shop on defense.
During a recent appearance on The Lowe Post Podcast, Brian Scalabrine noted how Boston’s defensive regression has been a significant factor in the team’s recent struggles.
“They don’t guard at nearly the clip that they used to guard at,” Scalabrine said. “It used to be that everyone’s fighting to be the best defender on the team. It was a good rivalry … It used to be a thing. They used to take pride in guarding the ball. They used to take pride in shutting down the other team’s best player…they’re far from, far from a 48-minute per game team that sits down defensively and really works on that side of the ball.”
Boston’s defense will be put to the test on March 21, when they face the offensive powerhouse that is the Sacramento Kings, in what will be the final game of the Celtics’ six-game road trip.