Jayson Tatum's Top Accomplishments of the Season
BOSTON – What a season it was for the Boston Celtics.
Fifty-five wins. Another trip to the Conference Finals. Rapid growth by budding stars. Continued improvement by established veterans. It was impressive all around.
Along the route of Boston’s 101-game journey, many feats were accomplished, some by the team, and some by individuals. Over the course of this week, we will dive into all of the most notable accomplishments.
So far, we have covered the top team accomplishments and Kyrie Irving’s top accomplishments. Today, we'll highlight Jayson Tatum’s accomplishments from his incredible rookie season.
No. 4 – Ranking No. 2 All-Time in Playoff Points by a Rookie
There aren’t many rookies in the history of the NBA who have made a substantial and lengthy impact on a postseason. Tatum bucked that trend this season.
Tatum led Boston in scoring during the team’s run to the brink of the NBA Finals, averaging 18.5 points per game. He finished the postseason having tallied 351 total points, which ranks second among rookies in the history of the league behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The heartbreaking piece of this accomplishment is how close Tatum was to becoming the all-time leader in this category. Abdul-Jabbar scored only one more postseason point than Tatum did as a rookie – 352. Had Boston pulled out a victory during Game 7 of the Eastern Finals, Tatum not only would have earned the top spot on the list, but he would have blown away any previous playoff point total accrued by a rookie in league history.
No. 3 – Ranking Fifth All-Time in Rookie 3-Point Percentage
Tatum shot just 34.2 percent from 3-point range during his lone season at Duke. Maintaining that percentage during his rookie season from the NBA 3-point arc would have been good, but Tatum doesn’t settle for good; he aims for great.
The rookie forward surprised many by developing into one of the top 3-point threats in the entire league this season. He shot 43.4 percent from beyond the arc, which is the fifth-highest mark of all-time by a rookie and the top mark ever by a Celtics rookie. That rate also ranked 10th in the entire league among players who attempted at least 100 3-pointers on the season.
Shooting from beyond the arc was supposed to be a weakness in the rookie’s game at the next level. Instead, it proved to be a significant strength, and one which expanded his options off the dribble.
No. 2 – Receiving All-Rookie First Team Honors
Tatum became the first Celtics rookie to be selected to the All-Rookie First Team since Paul Pierce in 1998-99. Ironically, Tatum earned the nod to the team while reminding many onlookers – including Pierce himself –of Pierce’s style of play.
While playing on a team stacked with veteran talent, Tatum still managed to assert himself and average 13.9 PPG on the season. That mark ranked sixth among all rookies. Tatum also ranked eighth among rookies in rebounds per game (5.0 RPG), tied for 11th in steals per game (1.0 SPG) and third in plus/minus rating (plus-4.3 PPG).
This rookie season by Tatum was one for the record books. As a result, he’s got an All-Rookie First Team badge that he can carry for the rest of his career.
No. 1 – Scoring 20-Plus Points in 10 Playoff Games
We already discussed Tatum’s overall scoring total during the postseason. Now let’s concentrate on the individual efforts he put forth.
Tatum was so good, and so consistent, that he was able to become the first rookie in 48 years to score at least 20 points during 10 playoff games. Again, Abdul-Jabbar was the other.
Tatum scored at least 20 points three times during the opening round against Milwaukee, during all five games of the second round against Philadelphia, and two more times during the Eastern Finals against Cleveland. As evidence of his ownership of the ‘clutch gene,’ Tatum averaged 23.0 PPG during the three series-concluding games in which he played.
It had been nearly 50 years since the last time a rookie played at Tatum’s level for an extended period of time during the postseason. An icon, Abdul-Jabbar, was the last guy to do it.
That’s a historic accomplishment, and one that has left Celtics Nation thinking that Tatum could wind up becoming an icon in his own right.