We don’t necessarily do a whole lotta numbers over here, a whole lotta statistics over here at SLAM. We like the eye test more.
Here’s a nice and simple number, though:
Jayson Tatum has had five 50-plus-point games in his career. That’s more than Larry Bird, more than Paul Pierce, more than John Havlicek, more than Isaiah Thomas, more than Sam Jones, more than Bob Cousy, more than Kevin McHale and more than Ray Allen.
Tatum has scored at least 50 more times than any other Celtic. He and Bird are the only players to ever score 60 for the League’s most storied club.
Here’s one more easy number to put all of that into perspective:
As in, he’s only 24 years old.
The above is special regardless of age. The skill level is magnified under the intensity of the attention that the Cs have always received. Last season’s run to the Finals has heightened the attention around Tatum even more. He’s delivered, making expectations seem more like invitations to demonstrate his dominance. A few more numbers, true as we go to press, to illustrate the evolution super clearly:
—Career-best 31 points per game
—Career-best 8.6 rebounds per game
—Career-best-tying 4.4 assists per game
—Six 40-plus-point games
—10 30-plus-point games
The eye test is a resounding pass. He scores a 100 on that, an A+, gets five gold stars and one round of applause.
Tatum scores in every single way imaginable on the floor. Single coverage is pretty much no coverage for him. Going up against a double team is like a fun challenge that he can solve most of the time. These days, it looks like triple teams are becoming a necessity.
He’s been surpassing the ghosts of Celtics past in mostly the Air Jordan 37 Low. Jordan’s signature foam, Formula 23, is stacked in the heel for landing, while an Air Strobel unit and a Zoom Air unit are double-stacked in the forefoot. Tatum’s shown off a variety of PEs while he’s been in the 37.
But things are about to change…
Photos via Getty Images.