At 25 years old, Jayson Tatum has already put together one of the greatest careers in Boston Celtics history. Tatum put an exclamation point on his greatness when he reached 10,000 career points in Boston’s latest win over the Brooklyn Nets.
With the milestone, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to score 10,000 points and the tenth-youngest player in NBA history to do so. He also became the youngest player in NBA history to score 10,000 points and hit 1,000 threes.
The Celtics beat the Nets 124-114, and Tatum led the team in points, rebounds, field goals, and 3-pointers. Boston’s franchise player recorded 32 points and 11 boards on 10-of-20 shooting from the field and 6-of-10 shooting from three.
Tatum got to 10,000 points with about five minutes left of the first half. The superstar forward posted his defender up at the 3-point line before spinning twice on a beautiful “and-one” drive to the basket. Tatum then converted the opportunity with a free throw that officially gave him 10k.
Tatum has now played 444 games in his career. In Celtics history, only Paul Pierce and Larry Bird reached 10,000 points in fewer games. Simply put, Tatum is a basketball legend in the making.
Coming off of two straight All-NBA First Team campaigns, Tatum has begun the 2023-24 season on a tear. Through five games, he has averaged 30.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting an amazing 55.0% from the field and 45.2% from three. The Boston Celtics are the only undefeated team in the league with a 5-0 record, fueled by the offensive engine that is Tatum.
While his free throw volume is way down from last year (only 5.2 attempts per game so far), Tatum is nailing a career-high 3.8 treys per game on 8.4 attempts. Gunning for his first MVP, Tatum should see his scoring numbers rise as his free throw attempts shoot back up to normal.
In his postgame presser, Tatum reflected on his 10,000-point accomplishment with some comments sure to make Celtics fans emotional.
"“I remember getting drafted in this building in 2017, so time has gone by fast … 10,000 points sounds crazy to think about. I always think about when I was a kid, growing up with my mom and saying I wanted to be in the NBA. While I may have thought I would be one of the best players, to actually do it is a surreal feeling. Just kinda living out my dream. It was a pleasure having my mom and grandma here today … Besides Deuce, those are my two favorite people in the world. To share that moment with them was cool.”"
Jayson Tatum has grown exponentially with the Boston Celtics
Unlike most generational talents, Tatum did not come into the league as his team’s top-scoring option or ball handler. Compared to last year’s 32.6% usage rate, Tatum only posted a 19.4% usage rate in his rookie season. While his usage took a slight jump in his first postseason, Tatum did not become the clear-cut top dog in Boston until midway through his third season – his first as an All-Star.
After the Nets win, Tatum opened up to Boston media about getting drafted to a team with so much talent.
"“I was ignorant when I got drafted … First of all, I didn’t even want to come (to Boston) because I didn’t think I was going to play. They had Gordon, JB, Isaiah Thomas, and Smart. I didn’t think I was good enough to be on that team … Things happen for a reason, and I got my opportunity.”"
Four seasons later, Tatum has established himself as an elite NBA superstar. The 6-foot-8 phenom gets buckets like it’s going out of style, rebounds like a seven-footer, plays elite defense, and sets his teammates up with crisp passing. Armed with one of the most complete skill sets in basketball, Tatum is only getting better.
This summer, JT worked on rejuvenating his mid-range and post-up game with new assistant coach and 2008 champion Sam Cassell. Tatum has looked like the best version of himself yet, putting his three-level scoring ability on full display.
Last season, Tatum had a post-up frequency of 5.1%. This season, that mark has increased to 13.1%. Tatum also leads the NBA in “and-one” frequency percentage on post-ups, drawing a three-point play on 12% of his post-ups. He also ranks No. 1 in free throw frequency in post-up situations at 31.3%, up 2.5% from last season.
Incredibly enough, Tatum currently ranks tenth in points per post-up ahead of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Victor Wembanyana, Bam Adebayo, and many more marquee big men. He also shoots 58.3% in the post, good for top-15 in the NBA.
Tatum has officially reached heights no other 25-year-old has reached, and he still has more to achieve. An MVP season could happen, especially if the Boston Celtics continue their winning ways. Even so, Tatum has one primary goal in mind: an NBA championship.
10,000 points is sweet, but a ring would be even sweeter.