BOSTON — The coronavirus has put the NBA season on pause and in doing so, halted what has been an amazing season for Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.
Tatum has done more than just elevate his play to All-Star status.
He has become a force in the NBA, putting up the kind of numbers that have him elbow-to-elbow statistically with some of the greatest to ever play in the NBA.
Tatum turned 22 years old earlier this month, but prior to that he had five straight games with at least 25 points to become the youngest player in Celtics history to do so.
He would soon break that record with a seven-game stretch in which he scored at least 25 points.
Tatum also had a run in which he tallied 30 or more points over the course of five straight road games, a franchise record he shares with Larry Bird. In addition, Tatum’s five straight road games of 30-plus points also made him just the second player in NBA history (LeBron James is the other) to have such a road streak over the course of five games.
So what does that mean if the season were to resume in the coming weeks or months?
Based on what Tatum has done and the potential he has shown to do more, it’s not a huge stretch to envision him finishing the season in the conversation as a top-10, top-15 player.
When you look at the ease at which he scores, the level of defense that he’s playing at more consistently and of course the Celtics being among the top three or so teams in the East, it adds up to a player who's on the short list of upper-echelon talent in the NBA.
And as we’ve seen throughout the course of the league, teams that win titles typically do so with at least one top-10 caliber talent.
Kemba Walker is a four-time All-Star and was a starter in last month’s All-Star game.
And while he’s working his way back from a sore left knee, even at full strength you would be hard-pressed to consider him a top-10 player.
He’s still one of the best in the NBA, mind you.
But Tatum’s play and undeniable potential put him on a different level of greatness, the kind that gives the Celtics real hope that a Tatum-led future will someday bring home Banner 18.