How realistic are Jayson Tatum's 2020 season predictions???

Jayson Tatum NBA 2k20 rating announcement. Screenshot via NBA2k
Last night a video clip was released by NBA 2k in which Jayson Tatum reacted to the reveal of his upcoming 2k20 player rating. Sitting with 2k digital marketing director Ronnie Singh (aka Ronnie2k), Tatum was asked what he thought his new rating should be. He replied by pointing out a lot of his statistical averages went up in his sophomore outing when compared to his rookie year back in 2018, possibly hinting that it makes sense for his rating to go up.
Well, Tatum was disappointed to hear that his overall rating had gone down calling it “disrespectful.” The way a 2k rating works is that the creators look at an individual's statistics and performance attributes from the season prior and try to make an accurate prediction on where they will be talent-wise the following year.

For last years game, Tatum received an 87 overall rating heading into his sophomore season. This was based on his rookie season in which he averaged 13.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. For NBA 2k20, Tatum has been given an 85 overall indicating lesser expectations for him moving forward.

If we’re going by his sophomore season stats to predict this rating all of them did go up in his second year. For the 2019 season, the 21-year-old averaged 15.7 points, 6 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. However, the game developers might have looked at his physical attributes on the court and taking those into consideration we could be looking at why his rating dropped. With this in mind, it is no surprise seeing Tatum a bit slighted watching some of his averages go up while his ratings go down.

Though it might sound a bit silly, these ratings mean a lot to the players in the league. The NBA 2k series has been around since 1999 and over the years has grown to dominate the video game space when it comes to professional basketball. NBA 2k19 has sold more than 9 million copies as of this past May and NBA 2k18 the year before sold more than 10 million in its entire run.

These video games reach a lot of people and the players in the league are very much aware of that. Not to mention, we are now at a point where a lot of players in the league grew up playing the series so how they are represented in the game just means that much more to them. It's pretty cool to see the different reactions of NBA players and how some of them use it as a motivation tool just to get better moving forward.

So with all that out of the way, let's get to why we are really here. As he seemed to recognize the disappointment on the face of the 21-year-old Celtics’ star, Singh reminded him that “the sky’s the limit.” He then asked the third-year player where he pictured himself by the end of next season. Tatum responded immediately by saying:
“90 (overall rating), Imma average over 20 (points per game), All-star, and the Celtics will be going to the championship.”
For Celtics fans, this is great to hear. The 90 overall rating is a separate thing, but it is somewhat of a confidence booster to see a young guy like Tatum set both personal and team goals heading into the start of a season. So let's break down each of the three and look at their possibilities.

Jayson Tatum heading to the stage on draft night. Photo via Mike Stobe
Looking at the Celtics roster changes this summer and the development Tatum has made so far in his career, averaging 20 points per game doesn’t seem like a long shot for his third season. He made just a two-point jump in average between his rookie and sophomore seasons, so a five-point jump from 15 to 20 is a bit more of a challenge.

However, Tatum’s role on the team is about to change drastically as he should be the number two option on offense and get more of an opportunity to show what he’s got in his arsenal.

Let’s look at a time when Tatum’s role grew tremendously in the Celtics’ offense. In the 2018 playoffs, he was forced to step up in his rookie season with both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward out due to injuries. In that time, he averaged 18.5 points per game leading the team in that category.

With the Celtics’ having a fully healthy roster in 2019, Tatum’s role diminished and his progression slowed down because of it. Moving into a more simplified roster next season, it’s very likely we see a jump in both play and statistics from him just as we did in the 2018 playoffs.

Jayson Tatum dunks on LeBron James in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals. Photo via Bob DeChiara
Next, let's look at the All-Star prediction. There’s not really a definite way to do this so what I’m gonna do is compare Tatum’s proposed statistics for next season to Eastern Conference all-stars from last season.

For the sake of the discussion, let's say Tatum averages 20 points per game as he predicted in the video but the rest of his stats stay the same from last year (6 rebounds and 2.1 assists). Looking at that stat line, there are a few players who made it into the All-Star draft last year with averages that were equally if not less impressive.

Khris Middleton made the All-Star team last season and he averaged 17.1 points per game for the Milwaukee Bucks along with 4.2 assists and 5.8 rebounds. Indiana Pacers shooting guard Victor Oladipo was selected as well, scoring 18.8 points per game with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Unfortunately, he was unable to play due to injury and was replaced by point guard D’Angelo Russell. He averaged 20.3 points per game with 6.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds for the Brooklyn Nets.

Looking at All-Star players like these, Tatum’s goal of being selected for the first time in his career will depend on two things. The first is whether or not he holds up his prediction and averages at least 20 points for the Celtics next year. It would also help if he managed to up the rest of his stats as well even if it was by just the slightest of margins. The second thing would be the success of the Boston Celtics as a team, something Tatum touched on in the clip as well.

2019 All-Star point guard D'Angelo Russell. Photo via Mary Altaffer 
Tatum’s final prediction was that the Boston Celtics would make it to the 2020 NBA Finals. In connection with the last goal, the Celtics overall success would mean a lot towards Jayson making the All-Star team. It could be argued that a guy like Middleton may have only made it last year because of his role in the Milwaukee Bucks’ accomplishments. With that aside, let's try and look at how realistic the Celtics making the 2020 Finals really is.

Right now, the ESPN power rankings have the Celtics at seventh for the league overall while has them as the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference behind the Milwaukee Bucks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the defending champion Toronto Raptors in that order. Personally, right now I have the Celtics as the third-best team in the East behind the Sixers and their biggest competition the Bucks.

Obviously, these power rankings could end up meaning nothing. At this time last season both ESPN and Sports Illustrated had the Celtics as number two in the power rankings trailing the powerhouse Golden State Warriors and clearly, things didn’t work out for either team for numerous reasons. However, looking at power rankings give us a good idea of how the media and fans view the standings and where the Celtics fit in right now.
The Golden State Warriors topped the 2018 NBA power rankings. Photo via Jeff Chiu 
To me, the Celtics’ potential next year is completely reliant on a few things. First is whether Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will elevate to new heights next season like we all expect them to at some point. Another element is if Gordon Hayward can get back to some version of the player he once was. Finally, we have to look at how much the younger guys like Robert Williams III and the new rookies will impact the team from the get-go.

Players like Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart will come out and do what they do, but if we want to see the Celtics contend for a title in this upcoming season we have to see them evolve through both their core and on the bench. If even some of these possibilities come to fruition, I believe we could very much contend with the likes of both Milwaukee and Philadelphia though it won’t be easy.

I can’t deny that in all of this there are a lot of “what if” scenarios, but that doesn’t change the potential Jayson Tatum has moving forward. Everyone can see what he’s made of and the footprint he could make in the future of the NBA. If he puts his mind to it, has the right motives and is surrounded by supportive and positive pieces, that footprint may come sooner rather than later. This year may, in fact, be the jump we have all been waiting for.

So what do you guys think about Jayson Tatum’s predictions? Are they far fetched or very much possible? Where do the Celtics rank for you in both the Eastern Conference and the NBA overall? Does Tatum deserve an 85 overall ranking? Let me know in the comments below.

You can find more 2k20 ratings for some other NBA superstars below. NBA 2k20 will release on September 6th, 2019.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654