The accolades keep pouring in for Jayson Tatum and I gotta say, it isn’t even close to getting old for me. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I catch myself getting carried away with a bit of tunnel vision by focusing mostly on my own team. So sometimes I wonder if maybe, just maybe I’m overrating our players because I want so badly for them to be great.
Then along comes one of the most respected writers covering the game of basketball ...and he completely confirms everything I believe! (well, at least about Tatum)
Here’s a snippet of what Zach Lowe wrote about Tatum on ESPN:
This Tatum can be a top-five player in the NBA someday — maybe soon. That provides Boston a path to title contention, perhaps now and definitely later. It gives this season’s team something every contender requires: a clear hierarchy. There can be no arguments about who should have the ball late.
Tatum seized that responsibility in a way that felt organic. It’s as if the rest of the Celtics were waiting for him to take it, maybe without even realizing. Everyone agreed, in the moment, that this is how it should be.
That is basketball magic. It rarely happens so naturally.
I’m so proud.
This has always been the long term plan. We all saw flashes of it his rookie season. The path to a future title would likely hinge on Tatum developing into an MVP candidate. The tools were there, the potential was there, the poise was there, he just had to put it all together.
Now that he’s stepped up into that role, everyone on the team seems to be on board and happy with the way things are shaping up. It must be amazing to be part of something like that and to witness the evolution right before your eyes.
Again, winning helps so much of this. If Tatum was dropping 41 point games but the team was losing two thirds of their games it would be different. People would be happy for him and very impressed, but there wouldn’t be that same level of respect. Tatum is influencing winning basketball and he’s also getting the support he needs from his teammates. It is a symbiotic relationship (thanks Qui-Gon).
The next step is taking that next step in the playoffs. Tatum and the Celtics have tasted some success in the postseason but there’s another level that the best of the best achieve and the only place that really happens is in the Finals.
That’s always been the hope. That’s always been the dream. For the first time in a long time, it feels like it could be a little more than just wishful thinking.