One year ago, Jaylen Brown was coming off a rookie season in which he averaged 6.6 points per game. Jayson Tatum was a 19-year-old making the leap to the NBA after just one season at Duke.
Now both young Celtic super-studs have been ranked in Sports Illustrated's Top 50 NBA Players for the upcoming season, with Brown coming in at No. 47 & Tatum ranking 39th.
Brown made a huge leap in his second year, finishing second on the team with 14.5 points per game (on 39.5% 3-point shooting) during the regular season before bumping that up to 18.0 points per game in the postseason. As SI points out, it's no surprise that other NBA teams were salivating over the prospect of prying Brown away from the Celtics in a trade.
Then there's Tatum, who blew away all expectations in his rookie year as he started all 99 games he played in, scoring 13.9 points per game (on 43.4% 3-point shooting) in the regular season and 18.5 ppg in the playoffs. It's no wonder that SI's Ben Golliver wrote this about Tatum: "Suddenly, the entire global basketball community was gushing like Tommy Heinsohn over Tatum’s poise, polish and gumption." Yep, sounds about right.
Brown and Tatum follow Terry Rozier on SI's Top 100 Players of 2019, after Rozier came in at No. 82. The Top 30 players on SI's list haven't been announced yet, but Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford will be included. Last year, Hayward came in at No. 16, Irving ranked 21st and Horford was 30th.