Boston Celtics second-year player Jayson Tatum took a step back during the 2018-19 NBA season, but still receives a passing grade.
Frustration can halt the rise of a young, emerging superstar, especially in the NBA. At the same time those players need a reality check. Such was the case for Boston Celtics second-year wing Jayson Tatum during the 2018-19 NBA season.
Like Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, Tatum was a reason why the Celtics were supposed to be the class of the East with LeBron James taking his talents to Hollywood. And speaking of talent, the return of a healthy Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward presented a depth in talent that was predicted to be a challenge for the young players.
How would they respond or adapt to that challenge a year after leading the team to the Eastern Conference Finals?
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Not really well at the beginning of the season.
With less minutes and more pressure, Jayson Tatum took an expected step back in scoring, averaging 15.7 points per game, more so, it was his demeanor on the court and knock for isolation ball that really contributed to the team’s overall struggles through the season.
A step back to move two steps forward
While his scoring average would be considered success for most second-year players, Tatum’s rookie season lifted him to heights of expectations that may have been unfair.
Still, for a team filled with talent, Jayson Tatum was expected to be the team’s secondary scorer to Kyrie Irving. He certainly showed flashes of that but wasn’t consistent enough to really emerge. Again, the 6-foot-8 Duke alum is just 21 years old and has so much growth physically and mentally ahead of him. He will flourish, but the 2018-19 season was a reminder that sustained success isn’t easy in the NBA.
There were also the continuing Anthony Davis rumors. While Tatum said the right things, it had to have impacted his approach on the court. Another obstacle he had to overcome in his young career, Tatum had a much better second half of the season, but struggled in the second round of the playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks.
He struggled enough that one Eastern Conference scout believes his value around the league has “taken a hit.”
Is that a shot at the development of Jayson Tatum or just the results of a bar probably set too high in his early NBA career?
The answer to that question can and will only be answered by the Boston Celtics young star. How will last season’s step back fuel his motivation? Will he take what he has learned from working out with players such as Kobe Bryant and translate that knowledge within his own game?
Grading Jayson Tatum
Whether it’s with the Boston Celtics or another team if he is a major chip in a deal, the 2018 3rd overall pick has to embrace the disappointment and frustration he endured in 2019-19 and translate it into a maturity that will mend well with a body that will continue to get stronger.
Overall, Tatum gets a B- for the season, but he still showed flashes of a very special talent in this league. He has to fall out of the habit of looking towards officials when calls are not made and continue to play hard. As his game develops and his success becomes more consistent, those calls will go his way.
While this summer will be an interesting one for the Boston Celtics as a whole, it will be an important one for Jayson Tatum in shaping the rise of his stardom.