The NBA community no longer asks whether Jayson Tatum is a superstar. His place among the NBA elite is the subject of most questions about him these days.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on Tuesday made a case for the Boston Celtics forward to win the NBA MVP award for the 2021-22 season. Tatum isn’t among players ESPN has labeled “front-runners.” Instead, the Worldwide Leader counts him among the “worthy challengers.” Nevertheless, the 24-year old has played himself into the conversation by powering Boston’s surge up the standings in recent weeks.
“Tatum’s season has mirrored his team’s second-half rise,” Bontemps wrote. “Early on, Tatum couldn’t buy a bucket, shooting 41% from the field and 31% from 3-point range with some rotten shooting luck, as Boston scuffled to a .500 record through late January.
“But since the Celtics took off at that point, Tatum has averaged almost 30 points while shooting over 50% from the field, 40% from 3-point range and just under 90% from the free throw line, making a credible case he has been the league’s best player on what has been the league’s best team for close to half the season.”
Tatum remains a longshot to win the NBA’s most-prestigious individual honor, with DraftKings Sportsbook recently setting his MVP odds at 250-1. “He’s not winning the award,” NESN’s Sam Panayotovich wrote last week.
Nevertheless, Tatum now is in the proverbial MVP building, at least. It’s a far cry from a year ago, when he was just confirming his superstar status. If he continues to progress, it’s not unreasonable to believe he’ll boost his odds and perhaps join the ranks of front-runners, perhaps as soon as next season.