BOSTON — Jayson Tatum may have dropped 35 points in the season opener against the Sixers Tuesday night in a C’s win–but that may only be the beginning to a good season from the St. Louis native.
Tatum is easily a top 10 player in the NBA, and barring a major injury, his game will elevate to the top before the season is done. With that being said, he has the potential to be this years most valuable player. Here’s why:
Chip on his shoulder
After losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games last year best believe Tatum is coming back with a mission. He’s tasted the finals and wants to go back. And when you throw in that he wasn’t fully healthy in the postseason, now is a fresh start for him to put on a scoring clinic. He’s already showing to be more aggressive, more focused, and just an all-around better player. A lot of players in the league can score, but when you do it in a mean way, it makes a difference.
Celtics are still a great team
Let’s be real, the MVP award isn’t only about scoring (it’s a big part of it though) but winning also plays a large factor. There’s plenty of guys in the NBA that can score but won’t have major team success such as Trae Young, Anthony Edwards, Bradley Beal, and LeBron James to name a few. The Celtics are in the position to possibly win the eastern conference once again. Despite losing their head coach, they still have the core group of veteran players that are well aware that Tatum is still the leader on that team. Knowing that, it puts Tatum already on the radar for being in the race.
NBA fans want a new face
After Nikola Jokić won his second consecutive MVP season, it’s time for a new name to get the title. It’s not fair, but the truth is that the MVP award doesn’t always go to the best player in the league. Because if that were the case LeBron James would’ve won the title for many years in a row. The league wants to improve ratings and keep things interesting. What’s more interesting than the babyface guy with an adorable son, never seen in the tabloids for anything bad, and has a wet jumper? Tatum is setup for this title–it’s just on him to get it.
He’s still improving at a young age
Tatum is still only 24 years of age. And to accomplish all that he had and to get some of the best lessons from teammates and legends (Kyrie Irving, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett…) it’s truly special. Last year he averaged 26.9 points a game and that average has gone up every season since he got in the league. His numbers improve, he’s yet to have a major injury, and he plays a bunch of games without load management. His durability will play a factor in the later part of the season.
This may play some part into winning games but overall the Celtics have a great squad with good chemistry. When was the last time you saw an MVP that didn’t have good teammates around him? He won’t be double-teamed too often thanks to the threat that Jaylen Brown poses offensively. And Tatum won’t have to expend his time on the defensive side of the ball thanks to Robert Williams when he gets back and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. Tatum has the tools surrounded him to succeed. He has a co-star, shooters, defenders, good role players and a true fan base to put him in a position to win MVP.