Celtics’ Jayson Tatum Thinks He Can Be Face Of NBA After LeBron James Retires

Boston Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum thinks he can be the new face of the NBA after Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James retires. 

NBA, Jayson Tatum, LeBron James
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

“I feel like it’s mine to take,” Tatum said in an interview with Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “I do feel like, if we win a championship, it would be more distinguished and clear. But I understand I’m in that shortlist for sure.”

Tatum is one of the best players in the NBA. He’s averaging 27.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks this season while shooting 47.5% from the floor, 36.3% from beyond the arc and 82.4% from the free-throw line.

The Celtics (43-12) have the top record in the NBA. Tatum is fifth in the league in total points and ninth in points per game.

“Earlier, I was playing the game just to play the game instead of just thinking it,” Tatum said. “Now, I go out there, and I understand who we’re playing against. I know their scheme, what they’re trying to do, which guys are in or out the lineup. Learning from experience, I understand that I’m good enough that I can relax and defer a little bit. Then, the fourth quarter comes, and I know I can score 20 in the quarter.”

The Celtics drafted Tatum with the third overall pick in the 2017 draft out of Duke. Tatum has made five All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams. He guided the Celtics to the 2022 Finals, but the Golden State Warriors won that series in six games. 

“The easiest way to say it is, I was devastated,” Tatum said. “I got so close and didn’t perform the way I wanted to, and we didn’t win. At that time, besides my family, nothing else mattered but getting better and getting back to that point.”

Tatum, 25, has career averages of 23.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He’s well on his way to making the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

It will be intriguing to see how far Tatum and the Celtics go in the 2024 playoffs.

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