When an NBA rookie becomes a starter and averages 30.4 minutes per game on one of the best teams in the League, it gets your attention. Players who have a strong first year very often become superstars within several years. In his first year in the NBA, Jayson Tatum is averaging 13.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 1.4 APG, while shooting better than 50% on field goals and three-pointers. In the tweet below, Adam Kaufman answers whether Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum has the higher ceiling.
Jayson Tatum, without question. He's a year-and-a-half younger and far more offensively polished. And the adjustment to the #NBA has been almost seamless. I believe they'll both be All-Stars. Just not sure Jaylen Brown's shown All-#NBA potential. #Celticshttps://t.co/4Ee2NFl0Pr
Comparing Tatum to any player, past or present, is virtually impossible but I arbitrarily chose Carmelo Anthony, who like Jayson, was chosen third in the first round the NBA draft and came into the League as a 19-year-old. Melo has been a ten-time All-Star and was second in Rookie-Of-The-Year voting to Lebron James. His rookie numbers are: 36.5 MPG, 21.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 2.8 APG on a Denver team that finished with a 43-39 record. His rookie shooting percentages fall well below Jayson's. There is no doubt in my mind that if Tatum's minutes increased somewhat and he was more involved in the offense, his numbers would come close to equaling Melo's.
As a rookie, Jayson is a better defender and shooter that Anthony, and he has more versatility. Tatum can also be compared to former Celtic, Paul Pierce. The Truth , like Melo, was a 10-time All-Star and member of the All-Rookie First team. Pierce's rookie numbers were 34.0 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 2.4 APG, and Paul was an NBA Champion and Finals MVP.
Stardom is almost certainly in Tatum's future, and super-stardom is highly probable. His name will be the most-mentioned by other NBA teams seeking trades with the Celtics. I am also quite sure that he will be on the short list of Celtics-who-will-remain-Celtics, if that list has any names on it at all. When the never-ending Anthony Davis trade talks are unearthed, I never put Jayson's name into the ESPN Trade Machine. I feel he has that much potential. Will he out-Melo Carmelo? I think he will. And more.
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Top photo via Winslow Townson/AP Photo
Bottom photo via Jason DeCrow/AP Photo