HUGE SUSPENCE: As Everyone is anticipating Jayson Tatum’s next big move.

Relevant Information: 6’8″, wearing a #0. Basketball-wise, he’s decent, but his real contribution to the Celtics is his creation of high-caliber Deuce courtside video.

High-end prediction: Tatum has a career-best performance, shattering some type of scoring record and stealing Nikola Jokic’s cherished “Everyone Thinks He’s the Best Player in the World” belt. In every postseason series, Tatum is without a doubt the greatest player on the court, earning him his first Most Valuable Player Award. The whole Celtics Nation melts with joy as Tatum and Deuce jointly hold the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Reasonable prediction: Tatum extends his time on the NBA First Team and develops his already super-duper-mega star game even more. His finishing manoeuvres in and around the painted area become more complex, and his defence goes from excellent to oppressive. Tatum is widely regarded as the best wing in the NBA by April, not that he wasn’t already in the discussion.

Low-end forecast: Tatum’s potential for regressing is extremely unlikely but not totally out of the question, barring injury. If Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis reduce Tatum’s shooting totals, his counting stats may appear less remarkable, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate a poorer player. Even a repeat of his previous campaign would be fantastic for the Celtics, particularly given his advanced age.

(Prepare yourselves; I’m about to date myself, but not in the manner that people typically mean when they say that.)

Jayson Tatum is the first superstar whose entire development I can recall, so he holds a particular place in my heart—and the hearts of the entire next generation of Celtics supporters.

Tatum was selected in the 2017 NBA Draught, so if you’re keeping score, it wasn’t all that long ago. I can hear the other members of the CelticsBlog staff writhing in agony at that comment. However, I was 14 years old in 2017 and have a tendency to divide my sports enthusiasm into the B.O. (Before-Oliver, or before 2012) and A.O. (Anno-Olivieri, or after 2012) periods.

This is due to the fact that I can pinpoint the precise time when I came to care deeply about the outcomes of Boston sports teams. It happened during the fourth quarter of the 2012 Super Bowl, when it dawned on me that the Patriots were genuinely on the verge of losing to the Giants.

I quickly experienced an existential crisis when I realised how severely distressing this was to me as a nine-year-old. The process of surgically implanting sports-related thoughts into certain regions of my brain had not yet started, despite the fact that I had always been a card-carrying Boston sports fan until that time. That all began in 2012 and is still going on today.

Paul Pierce was a terrific player who I have always known about, but I don’t recall him ever dropping all the way to the 10th place.

In addition, I can’t recall how wonderful it was to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals for the first time since the 1980s in 2008 or how insane the Kevin Garnett deal was. I do recall riding on my father’s shoulders to the Duck Boat parade.

Tatum, however, takes up a different space for me. You may guess where I was when I learned that the 76ers had acquired the Markelle Fultz lottery selection from the Celtics. I was visiting a friend in New Hampshire when one of our dads texted, “I really hope Fultz doesn’t turn into Jordan,” to which we all responded in unison.

As for where I was when Tatum dominated the Summer League, I can tell you. I’m seated on my couch as He beat LeBron James with a dunk at my cousin’s house, and my friend Henry and I came to the definitive conclusion that he was superior to Jaylen Brown while driving home from school. You see what I mean.

For others whose adult sports enthusiasm predates 2012, I can’t (and won’t) attempt to speak for them, but for me, Tatum represents the pinnacle of my expectations and wishes for the Celtics thus far. My desire for a championship in the next ten years is entwined with Tatum’s growth as a superstar because he became the face of the team just as I turned 18.

That is not to assume that he can or will succeed in winning a championship on his own. The Marcus Smart deal received a lot of criticism from individuals who wanted to preserve the team’s emotional continuity, a position I disagree with but respect.

However, the onus is on Tatum, as we witnessed during the playoff run from the previous year. The squad doesn’t have a great fallback when he’s ice cold.

Consider the Celtics as the cast of a brand-new late-night chat show that is just getting started. To make this work, a collaborative effort is required from everyone, including the producers, authors, sound engineers, and camera operators.

But in the end, the host’s performance will determine if the programme is a success. Conan never would have reached its 11th season if Conan O’Brien wasn’t totally into it. The Celtics are working to move “The Boston Bunch” to the top of Nielsen’s year-end rankings, and Tatum serves as the host.

(Yes, Jaylen Brown is Andy Richter and yes, I picked Conan O’Brien because he attended my high school.)

So how do they intend to accomplish that? Tatum has stated that he wants to be one of the all-time greats, and it will require even more baller-ness to achieve. However, his game is so complex that it is difficult to pinpoint one area for improvement.

That’s because the top players always find ways to improve their skills, even when they initially appear to be finished. Really outstanding performers and true greats are frequently separated by what appears to be a limitless addition.

Once his dunking skill had been hampered with age later in his career, Michael Jordan—who was already regarded as one of the best of all time—installed a dangerous fade-away into his repertoire. Around his 30th birthday, LeBron James discovered the bully ball, and his skill has improved like excellent wine.

What about somebody like Allen Iverson, though? He was outstanding, and the YouTube era of classic basketball clips has been very beneficial to him. But because of how intense and caffeinated his game was, it aged more like a 2007 Michelob Ultra. Before anyone even realised he left the league once the injuries struck, he was already out of it.

If Tatum is going to fulfill the prophecy, and complete the mission that every generation of Celtics fans is hedging their prayers on, he’s going to do it through addition. I can’t speak for other great Celtics, but I know Tatum is capable of world-beating improvement. After all, I’ve seen it with my own eyes this whole time.


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