Celtics star forward Jayson Tatum recently sent a strong message to the rest of the league: Boston is capable of returning to the NBA Finals to win the team’s 18th league title.
“I always believe in myself and believe in my teammates,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “Obviously, we were close, got to Game 6, and didn’t make it happen. So, this offseason, everything is about getting back to that point and getting over the hump. We’ve added two great pieces (Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari) that I feel make us a lot better and complements our team really well.”
Tatum is coming off a phenomenal season. He was named an NBA All-Star for the third straight season and made All-NBA First Team after averaging career-highs in points (26.9 points), rebounds (8.0) and assists (4.4).
The 24-year-old maintained his excellent play in the playoffs, dropping 25.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists over 24 games, but he wasn’t dominant in the NBA Finals, averaging 21.5 points in 40.7 minutes over six games.
Jayson Tatum could be eligible for massive contract
Tatum’s goals for next season go beyond winning the NBA championship and proving once again that he’s one of the top players in the league. He will try to make the All-NBA Team in back-to-back seasons, which would bolster his resume while ensuring his eligibility for a supermax contract. If Tatum gets this deal, he would stay with the Celtics throughout the prime of his career.
“The Celtics’ Jayson Tatum earned All-NBA honors in 2021-22 and will become supermax eligible if he earns All-NBA once again in 2022-23. However, Tatum would have to wait until the 2024 offseason to sign a five-year, $298 million extension. He is ineligible next offseason because he is one year short of the years of service criteria,”
ESPN analyst Bobby Marks wrote recently.
Can Tatum manage Boston’s agenda and his own goals, ensuring that he can produce performances that meet the lofty expectations he has? It’s not hard to see Tatum doing this based on the considerable developmental jump that he took last season.