Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum was all over the MVP conversation last season, just before dropping an NBA-record 55 points at the All-Star Game in Utah. Now, a year later, has anything changed?

Tatum’s numbers aren’t flirting with career-high marks, however, the new-look Celtics are significantly different — and for the better. Boston’s a much more efficient and invested team, leading the league in wins (43), point differential (+556), offensive rating (118.7) and net rating (+9.6) through the first 55 games played this season. Tatum’s had a large hand in getting there, which begs the question: Is that enough for MVP consideration?

“Does being the best player on the best team matter? I’d say it does,” ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Thursday on “First Take.”

Boston made a handful of major changes during the offseason, most notably in adding Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday. That provided Tatum and Jaylen Brown with two more All-Star-caliber offensive weapons that can perform on both ends of the floor. It also meant that the team would demand a great deal of sacrifice for all the pieces to fit and operate effectively.

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Tatum, if anyone on the team, has embraced that routinely.

Through 52 games played, Tatum has averaged 27.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting 47.5% from the field, knocking down 3.1 threes a night which ranks first among all players in the Eastern Conference. And that’s just the personal side of Tatum’s under-the-radar case.

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“They’ve got the best record in basketball,” Smith added on the Celtics. “They’ve got a six-game cushion in the Eastern Conference… He is the best player on the Boston Celtics. He is the best player on the best team in the NBA. And I’m saying, we ain’t gonna ignore this brother any longer.”

Boston was the undisputed best team in basketball heading into the All-Star break, riding a six-game winning streak and ending the first half with a 136-86 blowout win over the Nets. Tatum and the rest of the Celtics starters were granted a much-deserved fourth quarter off after building a lead as large as 56 points over Brooklyn.

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Yet, Tatum’s odds for league MVP rank fifth (+6000) behind Nikola Jokic (-140), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+210), Giannis Antetokounmpo (+700) and Luka Doncic (+1300), according to FanDuel Sportsbook. That leaves a handful of questionable names placed above the leader of the NBA’s best squad.

In the end, Tatum likely has his eyes on a different trophy this season.

Featured image via Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports Images