The Boston Celtics came into 2019-20 facing stern questions about their ability to compete for an Eastern Conference title. On paper, the team was always just one player away from really taking off, and after losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in free agency, they were short on veteran leaders to propel them deep into the playoffs. Boston's youth movement faced significant pressure to grow up fast.
Right on cue, we witnessed Jayson Tatum take some GIANT steps forward in his third year in the NBA. After showed signs of potential stardom in his first two seasons, Tatum truly began to put it all together. The All-Star was averaging almost 24 points and over seven rebounds a game before the league skidded to a halt due to COVID-19, and has done more than enough to earn the right to be called the NBA's Most Improved Player of the season.
He has is not only improved in his stat line; he's become the face of the Celtics, as he has been the go-to player late in games for Brad Stevens' team. His defense has only gotten better, which makes him even more valuable despite his tender age.
Not only should Tatum win Most Improved player this season, but at this rate, MVP votes cannot be too far away. If the Celtics build on this season's success, Tatum will be hailed as one of the new NBA generation's superstars. He has given Celtics fans legitimatee hope that a new era of greatness is coming to the frannchise.
For the last few seasons, the Celtics have ultimately been pretenders once playoff time rolls around. They haven't made the NBA Finals in a decade. But given Tatum’s breakout campaign, this team is reaching ever-closer to the kind of elite status the rest of the league will be unable to ignore.