Jayson Tatum Biography

Chase Vernaci, Sports Editor

The Story of Jayson Tatum

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Jayson attended his hometown Chaminade College Preparatory School, where he ended up being a five-star prospect and regarded as one of the top players in the class of 2016. In his four-year varsity career throughout high school, he averaged 20+ points per game, along with 8 rebounds and 8 assists as well as playing excellent defense and averaging 2 blocks and 2 steals per game. Jayson committed to Duke University before entering the 2017 NBA Draft. He was selected third overall by the Boston Celtics. During the 2017 NBA Summer League event in Utah, he displayed his abilities to effect, averaging 18.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 2.0 assists in nearly 33 minutes of action.

Later, in Las Vegas, Tatum produced similar results, averaging 17.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 0.8 blocks in nearly 32 minutes of action in the three games he was allowed to play. As a result, he was named to the All-Summer League Second Team alongside Bryn Forbes, Cheick Diallo, Wayne Selden Jr., and Kyle Kuzma. In Jayson’s NBA debut he recorded a double-double and total of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists as the Celtics starting Power Forward in a 102 – 99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tatum then recorded a season-high of 24 points in a win over the New York Knicks on October 24th, 2017. He was then named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for December of 2017. The Celtics finished the season with a record of 55–27, entering the 2018 NBA Playoffs as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. In-Game 1 of the first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tatum recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. In Game 4 he broke his playoff-high with 21 points and then broke it again in Game 6 with 22. The Celtics defeated the Bucks in Game 7 by a score of 112–96, with Tatum scoring 20 points. In-Game 1 of the second-round series against the third-seed Philadelphia 76ers, Tatum had a career-high 28 points in a 117–101 win, becoming the first Celtics rookie to score 25 or more points in a playoff game since Larry Bird during the 1980 NBA Playoffs, also against the 76ers. After posting 21 points in a Game 2 victory, he became the youngest player ever to score at least 20 points in four straight playoff games at the age of 20 years, 61 days, surpassing Kobe Bryant who accomplished that feat during the 1999 NBA Playoffs at the age of 20 years and 272 days. He became the first Celtics rookie to score 20 points in five straight playoff games. Bird held the previous record of four.

At the end of his playoff run, he joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only rookies in playoff history to record 10 games of 20 or more points scored during their first playoff runs. Furthermore, LeBron James would praise Tatum’s work there, stating ‘He’s built for stardom”. On May 22, 2018, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. In the Celtics 2018–19 season opener, Tatum scored 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists in a 105–87 win against the Philadelphia 76ers. On December 22, 2019, Tatum scored a then career-high 39 points, along with 12 rebounds, in a 119–93 win over the Charlotte Hornets. He would exceed that career-high with 41 points against the New Orleans Pelicans in a 140–105 win on January 11, 2020. On January 30, Tatum was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career, being selected as an Eastern Conference reserve. Tatum would then again score 39 points in a double-overtime game resulting in a high score of 141 – 133 win for the Celtics. As soon as the NBA season would be coming to an abrupt stop as the COVID-19 pandemic started. He was named to the All-NBA Third Team and the first selection of his career.

In the postseason, the Celtics were able to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in Tatum’s three years in the NBA following series victories over the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors in four and seven games, respectively. However, Boston was eliminated in those Conference Finals by the Miami Heat in six games. In Game 1, with the Celtics trailing by two in the closing seconds, Tatum’s game-tying dunk attempt was blocked by Heat center Bam Adebayo with 4.8 seconds left and led Miami to a 117–114 victory which would ultimately give them the momentum to win the series. On November 22, 2020, Tatum and the Celtics agreed to a rookie maximum extension of five years, worth $195 million. On the opening night of the season on December 23, 2020, Tatum totaled 30 points and seven rebounds, alongside a game-winning three-pointer, in a 122–121 win against the Milwaukee Bucks. On January 3, 2021, Tatum had 24 points and a career-high 12 assists and made another game-winning basket in a 122–120 win against the Detroit Pistons. The next day, Tatum scored a season-high 40 points in a 126–114 win against the Toronto Raptors. On April 9, 2021, Tatum had a career-high 53 points, 16 made field goals, and 15 made free throws in a close win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With his career night, Jayson was the youngest Celtics player to score 50+ points. Not only that, but he scored the third-highest number of points in a Celtics uniform, behind Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, and became the second player in Celtics history to score 50+ points and grab 10+ rebounds since Bird did it back in November 1989.  Tatum, along with Zach LaVine from the Chicago Bulls, became only the second pair of players in the 2020-2021 season to score 50+ points on the same day (LaVine had 50.) With just over a month of the NBA regular season left, the Boston Celtics are moving up the standings after a rough start of the season that included the challenges of fighting COVID. On January 9th, it was confirmed that Tatum tested positive for COVID-19 and missed multiple games. “It’s a process. It takes a long time. I take an inhaler before the game since I’ve tested positive. This has kind of helped with that and opened up my lungs, and, you know, I never took an inhaler before. So that’s something different.” Here’s Jayson Tatum responding to a question from Rachel Nichols about where he’s at almost 3 months after testing positive for COVID-19. He now takes an inhaler to “open up his lungs.” The virus is different for everyone, but this something to note as Raptors return from COVID as well.