Duke Basketball: Jayson Tatum shows MVP potential early in his career

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Jayson Tatum /

The former Duke Basketball star Jayson Tatum has shown flashes of brilliance early in his NBA career, and an MVP trophy may be in his future.

After only one full year in the NBA, most readers are probably wondering, “How does Jayson Tatum have MVP potential already, in just his second year?”


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Since Tatum’s rookie season, the former Duke star and Celtics guard hasn’t surprised Boston fans one bit.

Rewind the footage, and watch last year’s 2017-18 NBA playoffs; the scoring evidence is on there.

Did you forget, he did average 18.5 points in the postseason.

Hold the opinions for a moment. Let’s talk about the playoffs last year.

Boston battled with the Milwaukee Bucks in the first series, swept the Philadelphia 76ers in the second series, and ended up losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the third series, which ended their season.

It was not the way Boston wanted to end the season, but Tatum showed a tremendous level of maturity and growth in those postseason games.

Tatum scored at will; I’m not speaking in regards to his shooting ability, but the dazzling moves off the dribble to create his own scoring opportunities.

Let’s be honest here, he averaged 18.5 points per game during the playoffs. You tell me if this was easy to do as a 20 year old rookie.

Since everything is predicated on statistics; let’s utilize Tatum’s 2017-18 playoff stats. This is why he has MVP potential.

I know you’re sitting here reading this, and probably asking yourself, ” How can you sit here, and say he has MVP potential?” Hold tight, I’ll answer in a moment.

It’s the same scenario former Sacramento Kings guard Jason Williams had to deal with, after not receiving the 1998-99 Rookie of the Year award.

If you watched professional basketball 20 years ago, do you feel he deserved Rookie of the Year? Again, look in the archives at his old footage with the Kings. Williams was a crafty ball player.

Remember the passes during his rookie season; almost looked like the ones you see on the video game NBA 2K; crafty and flashy.

However, in 1998-99, the NBA was crowded with talent. We’re talking NBA Finals MVP Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, John Stockton, Grant Hill, Gary Payton, Chris Webber, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Hardaway, Hakeem Olajuwon; the list goes on.

If you understand NBA history, you remember: “VINSANITY”; also known as Vince Carter, was the recipient of that award. He was also the first one we seen do a 360 windmill dunk, in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk contest.

There can be bias when it comes to awards and accolades; considering Jason Williams had a great year during the 1998-99  season.

Enough about Jason Williams. Back to Jayson Tatum.

There’s a distinct difference between Tatum and Williams. Tatum is a combo guard.

To answer the question above, Tatum has MVP potential because of how eclectic his game is.

Scoring in various ways, has made him an offensive threat to most NBA defenses. He can score off the dribble, a stutter-step, hesitation, or a spin-move. One of the most impressive attributes, is his three-point shooting. Tatum’s movement without the ball is also very effective.

Most players can’t move without the basketball.

Whether you’re a Celtics fan or not, just look at his teammate and former Duke guard Kyrie Irving. A guy, that also moves well without the basketball. Tatum is surrounded by a talented nucleus, which has helped him progress as a young player in the NBA.

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It’s only his second year in the NBA;  could the word “MVP” come to fruition in Tatum’s NBA career?


He has the tools. At 6-foot-8, he’s already hard to contain on the perimeter. That’s a vital part of his game.

Some might say he’s quick, I’d say he’s smooth. The smoothness showed in last year’s playoff’s, and during the regular season.

But this season, Tatum’s off-season training has substantiated his points per game average. He’s averaging 16.7 points per game this season; three points higher from last season’s 13.9 average.

Again, if we play spades with statistics, he’s on the verge of an MVP season.

But when? Just keep watching Tatum grow and blossom in his Celtics uniform.

Most readers might find this unrealistic, but I’m not here to be argumentative, or cause controversy. I’m here to defend a young  and talented player, who’s shown the league he can score in a variety of ways.

So when that MVP season does happen, you’ll be sitting inside Starbucks reading this again saying, “Your prediction was accurate.” Case closed. Don’t spill the latte.

Tatum has MVP potential. Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens gave him the platform as a rookie. He finished third in voting for Rookie of the Year last season, with 76ers guard Ben Simmons beating him out for the award.

Now, he’s a sophomore in the NBA. Again, he’s pretty smooth. As I mentioned earlier: WATCH THE FILM.

It’s five words. Listen, and see what I’m referring to.

Film doesn’t give you fairy-tales; it shows you proof. Just watch the film.