As a 22-year-old first-time All-Star, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is certainly among the best young players in the league.
Behind his talent and leadership, Boston finished the regular season with a 48-24 record and now finds themselves just three wins away from a trip to the NBA Finals.
But just how good is Tatum? While that topic is still a big debate in the NBA community, one Western Conference executive is convinced he’s already better than Clippers guard, and 6x All-Star, Paul George.
After a scoring spike (15.7 to 23.4) in his third season, Tatum’s offensive game drew the most attention, but he also turned the corner as a defensive stopper on the wing. Tatum finished sixth overall in defensive win shares (3.7) and 18th overall in defensive rating (105.6). “He’s a two-way player who’s better than Paul George,” a Western Conference executive told HoopsHype. “He can get to the basket, shoot three-pointers off the dribble, and he guards the best perimeter player.” The ceiling remains high for Tatum looking ahead as a rebounder and passer too. He’s increased his rebounding by one board per game through each of his first three seasons and nearly doubled his assists from his rookie season (1.6 to 3.0).
“He’s a two-way player who’s better than Paul George.”
– Western Conference executive on Jayson Tatum
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) September 21, 2020
It might sound crazy at first, but the numbers tell an interesting tale.
Averaging 23.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists this season, Tatum beat PG in every statistical except for assists and 3-point field goal percentage. On offense, there’s really nothing Tatum can’t do, as he has proven time and time again these past few months.
On defense, though, the young Celtic holds his own and is, at the very least, on PG’s tier on that end of the floor.
Most importantly, however, Tatum has gotten better in the playoffs and has really put the team on his back through this bubble run. PG, of course, seems to shrink in these important moments.
The ultimate test for Tatum will come in just a few days, as he and his team prepare to face off against the Miami Heat. If they can win Game 4, and get back in the series, his claim to stardom is only solidified.