Jayson Tatum has been exceeding expectations since the first time that he put on a green jersey. Not only is he averaging 13.6 points on nearly 50% shooting, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game for the Boston Celtics, but he's also contributing on the other end of the floor. He's one of the only rookies in the league to be saving his team points on the defensive end.
And besides being an all-around stud, Jayson has proved that he has the ability to do something that can't be taught: getting buckets in crunch-time. In the first game that he ever played as a Celtic, he won the Tatum vs Markelle Fultz matchup, and also gave the Cs the victory in the final seconds. The trend has continued so far this season.
Twice last week, he showed up at the end of the game. Against the Atlanta Hawks, he hit a three pointer to give the Celtics a two posession lead with less than a minute to play.
That long-armed, stretching through traffic, finger-roll may be Tatum's signature NBA move. He's been doing it more and more as the season has been playing out, and it's just as beautiful every time. It's like he's reaching behind the opponent's ear and pulling out a golden doubloon. Magical. Here it is again.
Tatum is leading all rookies in clutch shooting by a fairly large margin. He checks-in with 17 clutch points, and the next player is Ben Simmons, who is putting up 12 points at the end of games. The Cs' youngster also leads all rookies in effective field goal percentage at 56.5%.
Jaylen Brown recently commented on Tatum's clutch gene when he said,
I think that's where Jayson comes alive. A lot of players on this team come alive in the fourth quarter, and Jayson is one of them. When the game is on the line is when we perform the best, and Jayson is one of those type of players that you give him the ball in the clutch, he can make something happen. Even in summer league he was making shots like that, just he's beyond his years, and he's going to continue to get better.
It's still hard to believe that Danny Ainge traded down to snag Tatum with the #3 overall pick, as he's making a real compelling case for himself to be chosen as the Rookie of the Year. The Celtics' ceiling is high, and a lot of that has to do with the 19 year old Tatum.