How does Tatum stack up with Pierce, C's greats entering Year Four?

/ by Darren Hartwell
Presented By TD Bank

Jayson Tatum doesn't need much imagination to visualize one of his NBA goals.

Tatum was a rookie in February 2018 when the Celtics raised Paul Pierce's No. 34 to the TD Garden rafters before Boston's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And while he was only 19 at the time, Tatum knew he wanted to be in Pierce's shoes by the end of his NBA career.

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"I remember sitting there and saying, 'That's gonna be me one day,' " Tatum said in a recent 1-on-1 interview with NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg. " ... Seeing it happen in person gave me a little extra 'oomph.' "

It's far too early to tell whether Tatum's No. 0 will become the 24th retired number in franchise history. But we can certainly see how the 22-year-old's career to date compares to those of Pierce and other Celtics legends at similar stages in their careers.

Below is a look at the career stats through three NBA seasons of four homegrown Celtics who had their numbers retired in Boston -- Pierce, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Cedric Maxwell -- and how Tatum's stats stack up.

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

While Pierce and Bird have Tatum beat in the scoring department through Year Three, both attempted far more shots per game (16.1 for Pierce and 18.2 for Bird compared to 13.8 for Tatum). 


We don't need to present further evidence that Tatum is destined for stardom, but what can we expect from the newly-minted All-Star in 2020-21?

Here's a promising outlook: Pierce enjoyed the best season of his young NBA career in Year Four, averaging 26.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 45.1% shooting while making his first All-Star team and helping lead the Celtics on an improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals.

After his breakout 2019-20 campaign, Tatum will have similar expectations in his fourth season -- and he plans on meeting them.

"Obviously he's a Hall of Famer, he's a legend, one of the greatest," Tatum said of Pierce, "and I know that it's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of time. But I know that I have the passion for it and I want those things. I'm going to work for them."

That works starts Tuesday night in the Celtics' preseason opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. Coverage on NBC Sports Boston begins at 7 p.m. ET.