As the NBA approaches the final stretch run, we look back at three February takeaways and three March predictions
The NBA All-Star break has come and gone and NBA teams are back and ready for the home stretch of the season. Believe it or not, we’re about 60 games through the NBA season and the clock is ticking for teams to make a last-minute jump into the playoffs or improve their seeding.
So let’s get you caught up with a recap of an action-packed February and take a look forward at what should be a critical month of basketball in March.
February Takeaway: Jayson Tatum is really good at basketball
If you haven’t already, you should probably go back through your old tweets and delete anything questioning Jayson Tatum.
The “He could easily be a top 5 player” talk after his rookie year always seemed aggressively early, but that discussion seemed all but over after a shaky sophomore season marred by Kyrie Irving‘s locker room destroying traveling circus. It was still early, but it would be hard to argue that he didn’t regress from his rookie year.
That all changed this season and it looked like Tatum was taking a really step forward in his third year. And then February happened and that “step forward” has started to look more like a gigantic leap that transformed him into a guy that could be the best player on a good team that already has Kemba Walker.
His February splits speak for themselves. Per NBA.com he’s averaged 30/7/3 on 51 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3 on nearly nine such attempts per game. If you’re new to this, that’s pretty good.
The numbers look great, but if you haven’t watched him since the start of this hot streak, you absolutely should – he’s almost unrecognizable. The two Celtics games that I watched in February were against the L.A. teams and Tatum was the best player on the court in both of those games.
Obviously, he’s not a better player than Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, or Anthony Davis, but in those games, he clearly outplayed all of those guys on both ends. Leonard and Davis are two of the absolute best defenders in the NBA and Tatum didn’t just go at them, but he consistently had success against them.
In both games, he showed a level of confidence and aggression that I’ve never seen from him. So much so that the Lakers were throwing double teams at him just to get the ball out of his hands – they had no answer for him 1-on-1.
It’s always possible that this was a blip on the radar and he’ll come back down to the mean, but this month felt like something more. During those games against the L.A teams it never felt like a guy who was just having a hot shooting night, but instead, a player who finally clicked and thinks of himself as every bit as good as the future hall-of-famers he was up against on those nights.
Tatum is no longer a future star in the NBA – he is one.