Tatum Named Rookie of the Month for December

BOSTON – The NBA announced Thursday that Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has been named the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played during December.

Tatum played in 17 games over the course of the month and averaged 14.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while playing 32.0 minutes per contest. He shot 52.9 percent from the field, 45.1 percent from 3-point range and 81.9 percent from the free-throw line during that span.

Tatum led all Eastern Conference rookies with a total of 248 points over the course of the month, while also corralling the second-most rebounds (101).

With Tatum’s help, the Celtics were able to win 11 games – the second-most of any Eastern Conference team – during December, which put Boston at a league-leading 30 wins by the end of the 2017 calendar year.

Being a starter on a contending team at just 19 years old, Tatum is in a much different place than most rookies, but he has made the most of his opportunities.

“He’s doing a great job of just figuring it out every single day,” said Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. “He’s a high-level player and a high-level mind. He’s mature beyond his years, so he’s always figuring it out on a day-to-day basis. He’s a rookie, and he still has a long way to go, but presently, now, he’s in a further place than most rookies are in this league.”

Shooting-wise, Tatum is a in a further place than most veterans in this league. His 46.8 percent shooting clip from long range currently ranks third among all NBA players. He’s also one of only two players in the league to be shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 45 percent from 3 and 80 percent from the free-throw line, along with Otto Porter Jr.

As great as Tatum’s shooting has been, his coach, Brad Stevens, believes he’s only going to continue to get better.

“For a guy with his frame, he shoots it effortless,” said Stevens. “I mean, he’s going to be able to shoot it deeper, and he’s going to be able to make it off running once he gets a little bit stronger, more used to it, and everything else. He’s going to be a heck of a shooter.”

Tatum’s consistency has been astounding, as well. He reached double-figures in scoring during a rookie-best 14 out of 17 games in December. He has now scored 10 or more points during 35 out of 41 games this season. Through Dec. 10, Tatum had reached double figures in scoring during 16 consecutive games, marking the longest such stretch by a Celtics rookie since Antoine Walker’s 20-game streak during the 1996-97 season.

Tatum is the first Celtics Rookie of the Month recipient since Marcus Smart earned the recognition in February of 2015.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was named Rookie of the Month for the Western Conference, having averaged 23.1 points and 3.8 assists per game during December.