Duke basketball: Jayson Tatum becoming one of NBA’s best players

Duke basketball forward Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball forward Jayson Tatum (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

A former Duke basketball star has become one of the NBA’s best players this month. 

There was always an easy answer when the question was asked, “Who is the best Duke basketball player in the NBA?”

Without thinking, the response would have been Kyrie Irving.

Now, that answer should be Jayson Tatum.

Tatum has soared to one of the best talents in the NBA over the course of the NBA Playoffs after his Boston Celtics swept Irving, Kevin Durant, and the Brooklyn Nets in the First Round, followed by a Game 7 victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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The former Blue Devil posted 29.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game against Brooklyn while shooting 45.6-percent from the floor and 45.1-percent from 3-point range.

Jayson Tatum also held Kevin Durant to 39.4-percent shooting for the series.

Things were even more impressive for the two-time All-Star after his dismal Game 3 showing against the Milwaukee Bucks, in which he only scored 10 points on 4-for-19 shooting in a two-point defeat.

Tatum then averaged 33.2 points in the final four games of the series, including a 46-point showing on the road in Game 6 with Boston facing elimination.

Duke basketball star looking to make first NBA Finals

Jayson Tatum will be advancing to his third Eastern Conference Finals in his five NBA seasons but has yet to clear the hurdle of advancing to the NBA Finals.

Tatum and the Celtics fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals and were eliminated in Game 6 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat in the NBA Orlando Bubble.

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Boston will get a rematch with Miami as the Heat, the top team in the conference this season, will have the homecourt advantage beginning on Tuesday night.

Tipoff is slated for 8:30p.m. on ESPN.

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