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The historical standing of Jayson Tatum’s under-25 resume

After Jayson Tatum’s 25th birthday, where do his career accomplishments stack up in NBA history?

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Tatum turned 25 years old yesterday, and that presents a natural milestone to take stock of his career to date. Celtics play-by-play man Sean Grande recently made the claim that Tatum has built one of the best NBA resumes of all time in terms of his accomplishments and production prior to turning 25 years old, and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

Tatum has scored the 7th most regular season points in history under the age of 25.

Under Age 25 Total Regular Season Points

LeBron James 13,927 505 27.6
Kevin Durant 12,258 461 26.6
Carmelo Anthony 10,768 445 24.2
Kobe Bryant 10,658 496 21.5
Tracy McGrady 10,420 487 21.4
Devin Booker 9,481 413 23
Jayson Tatum 9,429 424 22.2
Giannis Antetokoumpo 9,427 487 19.4
Shaquille O'Neal 9,208 341 27
Anthony Davis 9,125 393 23.2

The players ahead of him are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Devin Booker. You may have heard of them.

Meanwhile, Tatum has scored the 3rd most playoff points in history under the age of 25.

Under Age 25 Total Playoff Points

Kobe Bryant 2,155 97 22.2
LeBron James 1,761 60 29.4
Jayson Tatum 1,693 74 22.9
Tony Parker 1,547 90 17.2
Kevin Durant 1,546 54 28.6
Dwyane Wade 1,272 50 25.4
Magic Johnson 1,237 69 17.9
Kawhi Leonard 1,100 75 14.7
Jerry West 1,046 38 27.5
Russell Westbrook 1,037 45 23

The only two players who have scored more playoff points by their 25th birthday are Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, both of whom had an extra season to operate as they went straight from high school to the pros while Tatum made a pitstop at Duke. To be fair, other great players like Larry Bird and Tim Duncan would be on these lists as well if they had spent less time in college and entered the NBA in their teens.

One of the reasons Tatum has scored so many playoff points is because he has played in 74 playoff games, the 4th highest total of all time under the age of 25. He is behind only Kobe Bryant (97 games), Tony Parker (90), and Kawhi Leonard (75).

To play in a lot of playoff games, you need to win a lot of playoff games. Tatum’s career playoff record stands at 41-33. A championship title, of course, has eluded him to this point, but he has advanced to the Finals once and the Conference Finals on two other occasions.

Kobe, Parker, and Kawhi all had the advantage of playing alongside a generational big man (Shaq and Duncan respectively) during their under-25 title seasons. Meanwhile, Tatum has been the leading man on virtually all of his playoff runs, averaging the most points per game on the team during every playoffs of his career other than his 2nd season.

Of course, both Tatum and Celtics fans know that he eventually needs to validate his impressive resume with a title (or titles) to truly cement his growing legacy as one of the game’s great players. When asked to name the best players in the game, Tatum has consistently pointed to past champs like LeBron, Durant, and Giannis as having reached a level he has not yet attained.

There is no doubt that Tatum is building a resume that places him in the company of NBA royalty. Ultimately, his ability to punch through at the highest levels for championship titles (as well as maintain health and longevity) will determine whether or not he is remembered as a unique talent and fabulous scorer like a Carmelo or T-Mac or whether he can truly shoulder his way into the conversation with “one-name” giants of the game like LeBron, Durant, and Kobe.

As we wait to see how his career plays out over the next decade-plus (hopefully in Celtics green the entire time), let’s appreciate that the Celtics have drafted and developed one of the great talents in the game’s history.

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