Basketball fans and media members alike probably would unanimously agree Jayson Tatum has a bright future ahead of him.
Stephen A. Smith might argue that sentiment is an understatement, however.
Smith on Wednesday was asked whether he believes Luka Doncic eventually will become the best player in the NBA. While the “First Take” co-host is a big fan of the Dallas Mavericks star, he’s even higher on the third-year Boston Celtic.
“…I’m leaning toward Jayson Tatum. I’m just a huge Jayson Tatum fan,” Smith said on ESPN. “He’s about two to three inches taller than Luka Doncic. He’s clearly a much better defender. He’s averaging nearly 20 points (per game) on nearly 45 percent shooting and nearly 40 percent shooting from 3-point range, which is considerably better than the 3-point shooting of Luka. …I just look at Jayson Tatum and what he’s asked to do and how he’s just 22 years of age. Just 22. He’s got a handle, he’s got a shot, he can go to the hole, he can finish at the basket. Plus, he can defend.
“I love what I’ve seen from Zion (Williamson), I love what I’ve seen from Luka. Both of those candidates clearly have the potential. But I got news for you: It would be a mistake to omit Jayson Tatum from this conversation. He is right there, and he can overtake anybody. He’s got that kind of skill, that kind of length, that kind of athleticism. That kind of defensive prowess, as well. He’s got the package, man. He’s something special.”
The 2019-20 campaign truly has been the coming-out party for Tatum, who earned his first career All-Star selection while establishing himself as the Boston Celtics’ premier scorer. Now, we’ll have to wait and see if the star swingman is able to finish off his breakout season.