Is Jayson Tatum the Celtics Number One Option?

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DENVER, CO - JANUARY 29: Jayson Tatum (0) of the Boston Celtics controls the ball as Torrey Craig (3) of the Denver Nuggets defends during the second half of the Celtics' 111-110 win on Monday, January 29, 2018. The Denver Nuggets hosted the Boston Celtics at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The 2018-19 NBA season is underway, and teams are slowly beginning to take shape. Some players are emerging as key players, while others are slowly slipping. One of those players that is emerging as an NBA All-Star is Jayson Tatum. After an impressive rookie season last year, finishing top 3 in the Rookie of the Year race, he seems to have made an impressive leap in skill. With players like Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving coming off of injuries, is Jayson Tatum the Celtics number one option?

Is Jayson Tatum the Celtics Number One Option?

The Celtics have started off the year with a record of 2-1, beating the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks, while losing to the Toronto Raptors. There have been a few key takeaways from these games:

Gordon Hayward is Hesitant and Inconsistent

Gordon Hayward finally returned after missing all of last season with a gruesome ankle injury, and so far, he has not been the same. He has played extremely hesitant and a bit scared. He would often drive the lane, but freeze up and pass it out, rather than fight through contact for a lay-up. This is expected, and there is nothing to worry about. Hayward went through an extremely traumatic experience, and hesitation when first returning is completely normal for a while. Paul George had an injury with similar severity back in 2014, where he missed almost an entire season.

It took about the first 10 games back to get back in the flow of things. Now he is consistently an NBA All-Star. Give Hayward time to get back into the flow of things.

Kyrie Irving Off to Rough Start

If there is one word to describe Irving’s start to this season, it would be inconsistent. He is having a very hard time finding his shot. Averaging a career-low 14.7 points per game, he is shooting a career-low 34% from the field, with another career-low 14% from behind the three-point line. With a plus/minus of -20 for the season, he is actually hurting the Celtics when he is on the floor. With Irving’s shaky start, more touches have gone to Tatum, who continues to impress.

Jayson Tatum Playing Like an All-Star

Although only his second season in the league, Tatum has proven himself to be a reliable option time and time again. So far, Head Coach Brad Stevens has leaned on Tatum and trusted him to make big-time plays when the team needs it. This can be seen in the game against the Knicks, where Tatum made a step back contested shot to extend the lead late in the game.

His training with Kobe Bryant this off-season is showing. He has slowly and quietly become the number one option for the Celtics. So far in the season, he is averaging a double-double, with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. He is very efficient, shooting at a solid 48%. That stat line is extremely comparable to Celtic legend and NBA Champion Paul Pierce‘s second year, where he averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block.

While it is still early in the season, Tatum has proven to be an efficient player that can carry a team, and could easily become the Celtics number one option.

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