Jayson Tatum's Top 5 Performances from the 2019-20 Season

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Jayson Tatum has taken not one, but three leaps this season.

Tatum opened the season as a promising youngster and soon turned into a star by the end of December. Then he turned from star to All-Star when he was chosen Jan. 30 as a reserve for the East All-Star team. And over his final 23 games before the hiatus, he elevated his game from All-Star level to to borderline superstar level while averaging 27.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per contest.

Since Jan. 11, Tatum has basically been Kawhi Leonard, who is regarded by some as the best player in the world. The two have very closely mirrored each other’s averages over their 20-plus games since that date.

With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that Tatum has put up some monster performances this season. Here are his top five from our perspective.

5. Feb. 26, 2020 at Utah

Here's what happened...

Few expected the Celtics to play at a high level when they took the floor Feb. 26 in Salt Lake City. They were playing for the fourth time in six days during a West Coast trip, on the second night of a back-to-back, and in high altitude. Yet not only did the Celtics play well enough to win, but Jayson Tatum was also unquestionably the top player in the game. Tatum recorded his third straight game of at least 30 points and his fourth straight of at least 28 points by dropping 33 on the Jazz, which included an 18-point second quarter during which he made seven of his nine shot attempts. Tatum shot 13-for-20 overall during the game while requiring 12 fewer shots to reach 33 points than Utah’s Donovan Mitchell required to score 37 points. Boston’s All-Star forward also notched his ninth double-double of the season by hauling in a game-high 11 rebounds, which accompanied three assists during his 38-plus minutes of action.

4. Dec. 22, 2019 vs Charlotte

Here's what happened...

Tatum hadn’t scored more than 30 points all season long before taking on the Hornets Dec. 22 at TD Garden. That night, he nearly went for 40. Tatum set a new career high – which would last less than three weeks – by scoring 39 points on 15-for-29 shooting against Charlotte. He scored 22 of those 39 points during the fourth quarter alone. Tatum also set new season highs in both rebounds, with 12, and blocked shots, with three. Tatum has since had a 13-rebound game, but his three blocks remain tied for his season-best total.

3. Feb. 13, 2020 vs. LA Clippers

Here's what happened...

The entire NBA community was watching when Tatum and the Celtics took on Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the vaunted LA Clippers during a Thursday night primetime game that preceded All-Star weekend. No other game was going on, and so everyone was able to get a clear view of just how great Tatum already is. Tatum scored 39 points during a double-overtime victory, including 17 during the fourth quarter and overtime sessions. He scored nearly every basket for Boston that was of necessity, including a putaway bucket during the second overtime that arrived after he shook his defender into another zip code. Tatum also grabbed nine rebounds, dished out an assist, blocked one shot and tallied one steal during the game. He would later say that multiple All-Stars came up to him at All-Star weekend to discuss his performance under the bright lights.

2. Feb. 23, 2020 at Los Angeles

Here's what happened...

Tatum had already helped the Celtics annihilate the Lakers once this season by scoring 27 points during a 139-107 win Jan. 20, before putting forth an even more dominant performance during the teams’ second meeting Feb. 23. Tatum erupted for a game-high 41 points – nine more than any other player in a game that featured names such as LeBron James and Anthony Davis. What was most impressive about this performance was the efficiency with which Tatum played. He canned 12 of his 20 shot attempts, including a 4-for-7 effort from long range, and got to the charity stripe for game-best totals of 13 makes on 15 attempts. Tatum didn’t stop at scoring, though, as he also provided the C’s with five rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal during 37 minutes of action. Tatum’s performance garnered the attention of James, who after the game posted a photo on Instagram of the two players standing next to each other with the caption, "That boi to the left of me is an ABSOLUTE PROBLEM!!"

1. Jan. 11, 2020 vs New Orleans

Here's what happened...

How did Tatum outshine his 41-point performance against LeBron and the Lakers? By matching the same point total with better efficiency. Almost six weeks prior to dropping 41 on the Lakers, Tatum scored 41 against the New Orleans Pelicans during a 140-105 blowout win. Thanks to a ridiculous 16-for-22 shooting performance that featured six made 3s on nine attempts, Tatum required only 30 minutes and 23 seconds of playing time to set a new career high in the scoring column. No other player in the game scored more than 22 points. Tatum also contributed six rebounds (one more than the Lakers game), four assists (double his total from the Lakers game), and three steals (triple his total from the Lakers game). His game score for this contest, which is basketball-reference.com's rough measurement of a player's productivity, was a career-best 39.2. That number blows away the next-best performance of his career - the Lakers game, which registered a mark of 33.5.