Jayson Tatum says being in MVP race is ‘surreal’


(Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum has taken another leap forward in his NBA career this season.

Before the start of the 2022-23 campaign, the 24-year-old had already established himself as one of the best young players in the league but he has taken his game to new heights this season.

Due to his stellar play and the Celtics’ impressive 20-5 record, Tatum is hearing his name mentioned more than ever in MVP conversations.

Looks like he hasn’t gotten used to that feeling yet.

Tatum said Monday it was “surreal” to be in the MVP mix, adding it was something he dreamed of as a kid.

“It really feels like an honor,” Tatum said. “It’s kind of surreal to live out your dreams in reality, to be in the conversation. You dream about it when you’re a kid, and for people to recognize and acknowledge that, saying you’re in the lead or in contention for MVP, I don’t take it lightly. It’s not something I forget or get used to. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I think it’s cool, to be honest I still feel like a kid sometimes doing what I love To mention with guys like Giannis [Antetokounmpo] and things like that, I think it’s pretty cool.

“At the same time trying to focus on one game at a time and being the best I can be for the team – 20-5 is big. That’s how we wanted to start the season. Individually , all the guys, me and JB (Jaylen Brown), everybody’s gonna get the things they deserve. As for being in the MVP race, that’s not something I’m used to. I excites me, I guess. That’s something – even though I’ve been in the league for six years, I feel like a kid, thinking about the possibility of (winning MVP). There’s a long way to go , but it’s a surreal feeling to be in this conversation.

As Tatum mentioned, there’s still a long way to go, but he’s putting himself in a position to be in the MVP race all season long.

No Celtics player has won the award since Larry Bird in the 1980s, and Tatum is looking to change that.

Tatum’s season at a glance

Tatum is averaging 30.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game this season.

Last season, he averaged 26.9 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

What makes his score increase so impressive is the fact that it comes not from an increase in volume, but from an increase in efficiency.

Last season he averaged 20.6 shots per game, and this season he’s averaging 21.0 shots per game, which isn’t a big difference at all.

But last season he had a 57.8 true shooting percentage, and this season he maintained a 62.4 true shooting percentage.

This is where the improved score comes from.

It would also be silly not to mention his defensive impact.

The three-time All-Star has become one of the best two-way players in the league, and it’s one of the main reasons his team has the best record in the NBA.

Tatum will look to add to his MVP case on Wednesday when the Celtics take on the Phoenix Suns.




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