BOSTON — It’s early in the NBA season. Very early. But it’s hard not to be excited for Jayson Tatum and the level the Celtics superstar is playing at earlier in the year.
According to BetOnline.ag, Tatum is the early MVP favorite in this newly discovered level.
It’s early again. The Celtics have 68 games and five months left in the regular season. It’s a long, long, long way before the NBA hands out the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.
But boy, Tatum is playing incredible basketball right now. His game is certainly worthy of being at the forefront of the MVP conversation right now.
Tatum is third in the NBA with 31.9 points per game on 49/37/87 shooting splits. Not content with just threes and jumpers, he aggressively attacks defense and ends up on the edge. This led to a career-high 9.1 free throw attempts in the first month of the season.
Tatum has eclipsed 30 points in eight of his games this season, with two 40-point evenings. He had an unreal four-game streak last week in which he hit at least 31 in all four competitions – all Boston wins – including a 24-hour blitz in which he lost 77 points and conceded 18 rebounds in consecutive wins over the nuggets and the pistons.
And that’s just his rating. Tatum is also playing at an extremely high level and his defense has also reached new heights. He’s become the complete package, and there’s little the rest of the NBA can do about it right now.
With his dominance on full display each night, Tatum was serenaded with MVP chants. Now, not only is he in the MVP talk, he’s at the top.
He was asked for the MVP hoopla after a 27-point effort in a win over The Thunder on Monday night. Tatum would of course love to take home that individual trophy, but that’s not why he’s playing this season.
“It’s always been a dream of mine. It’s an honor just to be mentioned and think of me as an MVP. But getting into the season wasn’t my goal. I wanted to play at the MVP level, which means I wanted to play great basketball, be efficient and be on one of the best teams,” Tatum said Monday. “My goal, and I’ve had it all summer and said preseason was going back to the finals and not having that feeling [of defeat] again.
“Obviously if we win enough games and I play well enough to win that, it’s a dream come true. But for me this summer I didn’t even say I want to be MVP. I want to play more.” at that level and affecting the game night after night on both sides, do whatever I can to help us win games,” he said.
That’s an MVP answer right there. Winning a championship is the focus; the MVP would just be a nice by-product of the team’s success. That’s the mindset you want your best player to have.
We’ll see if Tatum can maintain that MVP level throughout the season. It certainly won’t be easy as the defense makes adjustments. But Tatum’s track record has been that he usually plays his best basketball after the all-star break. That has to be a scary thought for the rest of the NBA.
It’s super early in the season, but if Tatum keeps playing like this and the Celtics keep winning, he’ll be in the MVP talk all season.