Boston Celtics: 2019-20 is a make or break season for Jayson Tatum

NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

After a fast start to his career, Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum has struggled to find consistency. In year three he will look to regain it or be doomed

Much disappointment surrounded the Boston Celtics by the conclusion of their 2018-19 season. Boston fell short of their championship goals and were embarrassingly ousted out of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks in a 4-1 series.

Many players on the roster fell short of their personal expectations as well. One of those being, Jayson Tatum. A year filled with locker room drama, log-jammed minutes, and questionable leadership, led to the departure of many Celtics.

Those being Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Al Horford, and Kyrie Irving. Prior to last season is where Tatum flashed his superstar potential. In the 2018 playoffs, the Celtics found themselves all the way in the Eastern Conference Finals without their two star players, Kyrie and Gordon Hayward.

Tatum averaged 18.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 19 games throughout the 2018 postseason. Being, arguably, the team’s first scoring option, the third overall pick out of Duke elevated his game to another level and exceeded expectations for the injury-riddled Boston squad. In his rookie season, Tatum saw his scoring output shoot up from 13.9 points in the regular season to 18.5 in the playoffs.

He was well on his way to stardom.

Not quite.

The following year could be summed up as a catastrophic failure. As mentioned before, a log-jam of minutes heavily resulted in the Celtics’ struggles and Tatum’s inconsistencies.

Former All-Star, Gordon Hayward, returned from his brutal foot injury and created a crowded frontcourt. Not blaming Hayward for the Celtics internal issues, just addressing the fact that it caused problems that they couldn’t resolve.

Jayson Tatum did improve in a majority of his statistical categories. But not at the rate that most envisioned. With Kyrie and Hayward back he received the ball significantly less which, subsequently, resulted in far less consistent play. In his second season, he averaged 15.7 points, six rebounds, and two assists, while his shooting percentages slightly dropped. Ultimately, leading to Tatum receiving the label as an “overrated” player.

Year three is a critical one for Tatum. Not as severe as being traded from the Celtics. But, big enough to determine the trajectory of his professional career. It will determine if his star-level ascension is real or a fluke, and if he deserves a max level contract extension by the end of the season.

This season Tatum will be surrounded by a bevy of players that don’t posses egos or personal motives, just players that desperately want to win. He’ll be featured in a starting lineup with Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Enes Kanter.

Outside of Kemba Walker, this group of players can be productive without having the ball in their hands. Leaving more touches to go around. With this squad, the 6-foot-8 forward will be looked upon to be the second scorer behind Walker.

This upcoming season will provide Tatum with the same opportunity that he had in the 2018 playoffs. That’s why this is such a critical season for him – no more excuses – because all the circumstances fall in his favor.

Best case

Best scenario would be that the Celtics regain their free-flowing team offense and Tatum excels in it. He averages 20-plus points alongside Kemba Walker. And his new found confidence lands the Celtics with the third seed in the Eastern Conference behind Milwaukee and Philly.

Worst case

In the worst case, we discover that the crowded roster a season ago had nothing to do with his struggles. That after his impressive playoff run, teams watched film and discovered how to defend Tatum and get him uncomfortable. And that he’s never able to regain his rhythm and ends up being a Andrew Wiggins type of player.

Next. NBA: Re-seeding the Western Conference heading into 2019-20. dark

All eyes will be on the new look Celtics this season and specifically on Jayson Tatum as he enters a crucial year three.