Duke basketball product forcing his way into MVP conversation

Duke basketball forward Jayson Tatum (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Duke basketball forward Jayson Tatum (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

At least this week, nobody is better than Duke basketball gem Jayson Tatum.

If nothing else, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is now a prime candidate to take home All-NBA honors for the second time in his five-year pro career (Third Team in 2019-20). But in light of the former Duke basketball one-and-done’s recent prolific stretch, some analysts have opined that he belongs in the MVP conversation, an award that has forever eluded NBA Blue Devils.

Tatum hasn’t finished with fewer than 20 points in his past 11 outings. And across the Celtics’ active four-game win streak, the former No. 3 overall draft pick has averaged 42.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists while shooting 55.8 percent from the field, 46.3 beyond the arc, and 86.8 percent from the charity stripe.

His two most recent shooting clinics were good for 54 then 44 points, respectively, in Sunday’s 126-120 home win over the Brooklyn Nets and Wednesday’s 115-101 road win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Also worth noting, Tatum’s 135 points between the past three games topped the storied franchise’s record of 128 in such a span, which he set last season. Still, while talking to the media following the latest victory, the bucket-getter himself reiterated the underlying reason for his team’s sudden rise to No. 5 in the Eastern Conference at 40-27 overall:

“Defense, defense, defense. Defense, defense, defense.”

A chance for the Duke basketball alum to catch Michael Jordan?

With 358 days to go until his next birthday, the 24-year-old Jayson Tatum already has six 50-point games to his name between the postseason and regular season. That’s one more than the late Kobe Bryant tallied before turning 25.

On that list — since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976 — Tatum trails only the two most recognizable stars in NBA history: Michael Jordan (10 games with at least 50 points before turning 25) and LeBron James (eight).

Amazingly, at the rate Tatum is cooking right now, he has a realistic shot at reaching both of those legends’ marks.

Now averaging a career-high 26.8 points and 8.2 rebounds, Jayson Tatum looks to extend his hot streak when the Boston Celtics host the lowly Detroit Pistons (18-48) at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday.

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