An Absolute Problem: Jayson Tatum emerges as Celtics’ top scorer

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

Boston Celtics budding superstar Jayson Tatum is an absolute problem and might be playing him into the NBA’s MVP race

After a 41-point performance Sunday afternoon against Los Angeles and LeBron James, Jayson Tatum has adopted a new perception in Boston.

“The problem child.”

That image derives from a recent Instagram post made by LeBron saying, “That boi to the left of me is AN ABSOLUTE PROBLEM, Keep going #YoungKing,” James wrote.

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And that he is.

Tatum was sensational in the Boston Celtics‘ 114-112 loss against the Lakers. But he was even more impressive in the second and third quarters. He scored 36 points combined against an impetuous Lakers’ defense. The Lakers did everything possible to contain the 6-foot-8 shooting guard; unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for L.A. or LeBron.

Tatum, in his third year with the Celtics, has earned the reverence he deserves. His biggest asset since arriving in the league is long-range shooting. That’s what separates Tatum from other guards his size. Granted, most guards at 6-foot-8 can light up the scoreboard when you spread the floor. But the adeptness he showed against L.A. from downtown will be pivotal for Boston down the stretch of the season.

Tatum averages nearly 23 points per game. But astonishingly, he’s averaged 27.6 points per game since January 11th. This stems from two 41-point performances, five games with approximately 30 points, and 10 games with nearly 25 points. These numbers are impeccable. At 21 years old, he’s embedding his name as one of the best players in the world. According to LeBron James, Tatum isn’t too far from that grouping.

James told reporters after the Lakers’ win Sunday that Tatum was special. A special player with a tremendous amount of talent. In essence, Tatum has it all.

ESPN commentator Mark Jackson stated something similar to James saying, “He’s got it.”

If basketball was a toolset like a craftsman, Tatum would have his own toolbox of moves. It’s a toolbox of moves that Tatum carries in his arsenal. On Sunday afternoon, L.A. threw every defensive set possible at Boston to limit Tatum’s touches. It didn’t work. They double-teamed and trapped. Tatum still found a way to create his own offense. That’s the most compelling part of his game. His ability to create.

With Tatum being the “problem child” in Boston, should we start having MVP conservations? Maybe. They’ll have to be slow and subtle. It’s still the regular season, which means Tatum still has plenty of room for growth.

Whenever franchises throw double-teams and traps at a player, you have to find ways to combat those schemes. Once Tatum is able to decipher how to break defenses, his scoring boat will sail a little smoother. He has several experienced players on the Celtics’ roster to assist him. Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, among others

That assistance from experienced players will give Tatum an edge over other shooting guards who can’t break the pressure. When the pressure starts to heat up, you have to find ways to cool down.

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Of course, LeBron’s praise on social media gave Tatum a confidence boost. That confidence is inevitable if we start iterating debates about possible MVP votes.

Tatum has the ability to mortify any defensive scheme thrown at him. Why?