Why Paul Pierce Believes Jayson Tatum ‘Surpassed’ This NBA Star

Pierce issued his latest bold take

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December 1, 2022

Year six has served as the biggest leap for Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, who has quickly blossomed into an MVP candidate after just a little over a quarter of the season played.

Tatum has played just 22 games thus far, however, has already assembled a convincing campaign. The 24-year-old veteran has averaged a career-best 31.6 points with 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists, which have the oddsmakers on Tatum’s side — placing his odds at an NBA-best +250, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Joining the oddsmakers is Paul Pierce, who spent 15 seasons with the Celtics and earned MVP honors in the 2008 NBA Finals. Pierce joined fellow ex-Celtic and Basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett for an installment of SHOWTIME Basketball’s “KG Certified.”

“I said this,” Pierce told Garnett. “And I think after last year’s playoffs, he surpassed Kevin Durant — as far as a better player in the NBA today. I said this last year. I’m taking Tatum over KD after last year’s playoffs. … I think him going against Kevin Durant was like a passing of the torch.”

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During that first round of the playoffs that Pierce referenced, Tatum absolutely took over. During the brief four-game battle, Tatum averaged 29.5 points per contest with 7.3 assists while shooting 44.5% from the field and 41.9% from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Durant failed to elevate his game as we’ve seen on previous occasions, which resulted in the fewest point per game average (26.3) the star forward managed to average since his playoff debut in 2010 with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nevertheless, Pierce didn’t fail to acknowledge the legacy Durant has already cemented.

“I’m not taking nothing away from KD,” Pierce said. “KD’s still one of the greatest to ever play and he’s still one of the best in the game. I just think Tatum — today — just passed KD.”

While the Brooklyn Nets haven’t at all had the red-hot start that the Celtics have put together, Durant has done his part. The 34-year-old All-Star has averaged 30.4 points while shooting 55.3% from the field with 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists through 23 games played.

Thumbnail photo via Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports Images
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