Starting Lineup’s Jayson Tatum NBA Action Figure Captures the Celtics Superstar’s Elite Game
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His game—and his legacy, if it’s not too early to discuss such things—lies at a unique intersection of old and new, historic and cutting edge. Jayson Tatum is 24 years old, and it seems simultaneously as if he’s been in the League a decade, or barely any time at all. The truth, as he begins his sixth NBA season, is that Tatum is a three-time All-Star and one of the most complete forwards in the game.
The old and historic date back to his schoolboy days in St. Louis, where his family connections spoke to future success. He’s the godson of Larry Hughes and a cousin of Tyronn Lue. After a college year in Durham at Duke, he landed in Boston, the NBA’s most history-obsessed city, where like all great players, he’s compared to the legends (Larry and otherwise) who wore the green and white before him. At the same time, he also developed a deep connection with one of the iconic legends of the Celtics’ greatest rival. With Tatum, the connections to the past run deep, and in multiple directions.
But his game? That’s thoroughly new school, and already truly elite. He showed it during the 2019-20 season, when his per-game scoring jumped from nearly 16 ppg to better than 23 points per. Last season, in his third straight All-Star campaign, he averaged 26.9 points, 8 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game, establishing himself in that rare tier of players who do everything very, very well.
Tatum chose the playoffs, as all Boston greats must, to truly announce himself to the basketball-watching world. He led the Celtics past Giannis and the defending champs from Milwaukee, then past a relentless squad from Miami and into the NBA Finals, where it took Stephen Curry and the healthy, resurgent and reloaded Golden State Warriors to keep Boston from another title and Tatum from his first. He settled for Eastern Conference Finals MVP honors and the gift of understanding what it will take to lead his team to a championship.
You don’t have to believe in destiny to like Tatum’s odds. He’s everything an NBA standard bearer needs to be: immensely talented, intensely focused on improving and a joy to watch, owner of one of the smoothest and most complete offensive games of his generation. He may not have the high-wattage personality of most of the rest of the new Starting Lineup generation of which he’s so deservedly a part, but Tatum has the quiet swagger and a definite sense of style—those Taco Js, immortalized on his figure, are already iconic—to go with it. Most importantly, he’s got the game.
Simply put: He’s already so good and probably not yet close to his peak. More All-Star picks, more MVP consideration and many more deep playoff runs seem all but inevitable. The green and white, and the game in general, are in good hands.
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