Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Climb ‘NBA Future Superstars’ Rankings

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are moving up in the world of basketball predictions.

The Boston Celtics stars climbed ESPN’s list of the best NBA players age 25 and under for 2020. Brown and Tatum both are enjoying career years and have been key to the Celtics bouncing back from a disappointing 2018-19 campaign, returning to the ranks of contenders to win the Eastern Conference and reach the NBA Finals.

Tatum, 22, ranked eighth on ESPN’s “Future Superstars” list last year, but his stellar performances this season have taken him up to No. 3.

“This probably will be the high-water mark for Tatum, with (Luka) Doncic and (Zion) Williamson projected to hold the top two spots for the foreseeable future,” ESPN’s Bobby Marks wrote. “Still, Tatum, who turned 22 on Tuesday, moves up five spots from last season, emerging as an All-Star and a franchise player for the Celtics.

“Besides being one of the most durable players in the NBA, Tatum has become the Celtics’ No. 1 option, as demonstrated by his being only the sixth Celtics player to average 30 points in a month. He’s eligible for a contract extension this summer and will command a max salary.”

Few could predict definitively whether Brown, 23, would rise or fall off ESPN’s “Future Superstars” list coming into the 2019-20 season. However, achieving career highs in a number of statistical categories have rocketed him up from No. 25 to No. 13.

“After barely cracking the top 25 last season, Brown moves up 12 spots,” Marks wrote. “Like Tatum, Brown has benefited this season from having a more defined role. He is now a full-time starter, playing a career-high 34 minutes per game.

“Brown’s per-game stats have likewise reached career highs, as has his true shooting percentage (59 percent). His play has been a positive on both ends, according to ESPN’s real plus-minus.”

With a new generation of young players asserting themselves in the NBA, maintaining their respective places on ESPN’s “Future Superstars” list will be a tough task for Tatum and Brown. However, they’ve shown during their young careers the type of mental strength required to improve constantly and overcome adversity when necessary. So it probably would be unwise to bet against them staking their claims next season and perhaps beyond.

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