How Celtics Star Jayson Tatum Feels About Being In MVP Conversation

'I didn't say one time this summer I wanted to win MVP'


Nov 15, 2022

Jayson Tatum can hear the chatter, and it will only grow louder if the Boston Celtics superstar continues the stellar start he has had to this season.

For the first time in his career, Tatum is firmly planted in the MVP conversation, and is seen thus far as one of the frontrunners for the coveted award.

While it’s hard for Tatum not to think about what it would mean to accomplish the spectacular feat, he’s keeping himself grounded by just trying to be the best player he can be for the Celtics.

“It’s always been a dream of mine, and it’s like an honor to even be mentioned, or thought of, the idea of me winning MVP,” Tatum told reporters following Boston’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunders on Monday at TD Garden, per NBC Sports Boston. “That was not like a goal of mine coming into this season. I wanted to play at an MVP level, meaning playing great basketball, being efficient and being on one of the best teams.”

Tatum has been all of those things and then some through the first 14 games of the season, with the Celtics winning 11 of those contests. As of Tuesday evening, Tatum is third in the NBA in scoring, averaging 31.9 points per game — he only trails Luka Doncic (34.3) and Joel Embiid (32.3). He’s asserting his will on opposing defenses, as evidenced by his 7.9 free-throw attempts per game, which is a career-high.

But that’s not the only career-best mark so far for Tatum. His 49.1% shooting from the field is Tatum’s best percentage in his six seasons in the NBA as he’s just outside the range of entering the prestigious 50-40-90 club. Tatum is shooting 86.6% from the charity stripe and would need to really improve his 3-point shooting where he’s hitting 36.8% of his attempts to reach the illustrious marks. And obviously, he would have to keep it up over the course of the season as well.

Tatum has proved though to be the best player on the floor by far on a nightly basis even as he is “managing” a wrist injury. He recently outdueled reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic and then a night later, poured in 43 points to lift the Celtics over the Detroit Pistons on the road. Tatum has scored at least 30 points in eight games already.

Tatum has certainly looked the part of an MVP in the early going, and while that honor would completely cement his status as one of the league’s elite players, he has another objective in mind at the moment.

“My goal — and I’ve said it all summer, preseason — was to get back to the Finals and not have that feeling again,” Tatum said. “So, along the way if we win enough games and I play well enough and able to win that, obviously that’s a dream come true. But for me, I didn’t say one time this summer I wanted to win MVP. I more so just want to play at that level, and affect the game on both ends night in and night out and do what I can to help us win games.”

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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