The last time a Boston Celtics player won the MVP award was in the 1985-86 season when Larry Bird took home the trophy. And while this season started off rough, Jayson Tatum has arguably placed himself in the mix for the award.
By all accounts, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo have run away with the top three spots, but with how well the C’s have played lately, Tatum has begun getting some consideration.
Jared Weiss of The Athletic believes it won’t go much further than that, though. On a recent episode of Celtics Beat on CLNS Media, Weiss stated that Tatum would have to play on another level for the rest of the season to even come close to a top-five finish.
“But like, At the end of the day, he is not in contention for the number one spot, he’s more contention for the fifth spot. And really, he would have to average like 35 at night here on out, and they would have to somehow catch Miami and get the number one seed for him to even sniff that top five.”
Tatum has been scoring on what seems like a nightly basis as of late. But with the competition coming up on Boston’s schedule, it’s hard to imagine that level of play is sustainable.
Weiss does believe that he’s knocking on the doorstep of the award, though. Tatum just turned 24 this year, and Weiss believes that he’s on the right track to being a contender for the award in the near future.
“Next year, maybe that’s the year where he starts to actually crack the top five of the MVP conversation, which would make sense because he just turned 24, right? 24 is probably the age where the best prodigies start to crack the MVP. I think he’s on track right now to be an MVP contender.”
While the Celtics haven’t had a player win the award in over 30 years, they did have someone finish in the top five not too long ago – Isaiah Thomas. He was fifth in MVP voting back in the 2016-17 season.
But what Thomas’ MVP season was surely impressive, Adam Kaufman pointed out one edge Tatum has when vying for the award – defense.
“For a while, we were sort of, giving Isaiah Thomas and that MVP caliber season, that top-five finish, that credit. But one huge difference between that season with IT, and this season, obviously with Tatum, Tatum does it on both ends of the floor.”
Weiss quickly chimed in, however, comparing the two seasons. And while he believes Tatum may hold the slight edge in terms of overall performance, he doesn’t think it comes close to Thomas’ season in terms of importance.
“I don’t think you can beat it, as far as, what’s the most important, memorable season in the last decade or so. But Tatum, his overall impact, you could probably say on offense is almost at that level and has been. And then on the defensive end is bigger. So yeah, you could probably give him the edge as far as raw performance.”