Is Jayson Tatum really moving up in the NBA world?
ESPN on Wednesday ranked the Boston Celtics forward No. 35 on its list of the NBA’s 100 “best players” for the 2019-20 season. Tatum’s position on ESPN’s pecking order is 10 places worse than it was last year, and ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan insists his failure to launch in his second season was the primary reason.
“The Celtics need more from Tatum, who had an electric rookie season in 2017-18, culminating with a dunk over his childhood idol, LeBron James, in the Eastern Conference finals,” MacMullan writes. “Tatum did not build on that success, appearing, at times, curiously passive in 2018-19 and exhibiting occasional defensive indifference.”
Tatum is the fifth Celtics player to appear on ESPN’s Top 100 so far. He joins Marcus Smart (No. 87), Gordon Hayward (65), Jaylen Brown (51) and Kemba Walker (17) among Boston players on the list. Each of the aforementioned Celtics’ rank is lower than it was last year, giving them one more reason to enter the 2019-20 season with something to prove to ESPN and every other believer-turned-doubter.