NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin was trying to make it a thing in Toronto. We at Hardwood Houdini are here to endorse it.
Sure, March Jayson knows how to hoop, but this name just has a ring to it. Taco Jay is pretty cool too, but when we see a number "1" at the beginning of that date format, you already know what time it is. Defensively, you can tell he's locked in, leading the team in steals this month. Yeah, more than Jrue Holiday. Offensively, it's like we're watching someone play 2K with the game sliders adjusted significantly.
Jayson Tatum is undoubtedly 'January Jason'
At this point, No. 0 in green and white has earned the name. It's no "Big Ticket" or "Big Smooth", but it has the potential to catch on, at least during one out of every 12 months.
Three double-doubles. Four 30-point displays. What about last year? Well, in no month did Tatum have more double-doubles that included more than 29 points than January. What about the year before? Six double-doubles, the most in a calendar month during that season. He had 51 in Washington and Charlotte to kick off the last two new years in style. Don't forget about the triple-double against Dallas last January, his first since April 2021.
In 2024, the month isn't even over. In fact, Boston has eight games left until the calendar flips to the second month of 2024. Two-fifths of his 50-point games have come in January. He came close against Minnesota. With the way he is playing at the moment, you wouldn't be surprised if he dropped another 50 piece.
Only three players across the association average 28 or more points, and eight-plus rebounds this month. Giannis. Embiid. January Jay. If you take out the blowout in Wisconsin, those numbers would even more impressive. As we stated above, this isn't his first rodeo in the first month of a new year. Last January, the ex-No. 3 overall selection netted 30-plus in eight of the 13 contests during those 31 days. Throughout his career, Tatum has averaged over 23 points per game in January to go along with 7.2 boards. It is the only month throughout the course of a calendar year in which the Duke product has competed in 30 or more games in which he has put up those numbers.
Jayson Tatum has been nothing but brilliant in January, continuing a trend that we've seen before
The man has been scorching from the great beyond so far in 2024. He is taking efficiency to a whole new level. If he keeps this up, it'll be the third month over the past two-plus seasons in which he has shot over 40 percent from three.
Tatum has connected on average 3.7 threes per game this January, putting him among just 13 players across the entire association with at least 3.5 makes each time out. He is also one of two players along with Alec Burks this month to be shooting over 50 percent from downtown when taking more than seven from that distance per contest.
Catch and shoot, or pullup? Doesn't matter. Terry Rozier and Luka Doncic are the only two that are converting more pull-up three-pointers in January than No. 0 in green. Check out that pullup below. When it comes to catch and shoot---nobody in the C's rotation has been able to punish the opponent more. Only two players for Boston's regular unit shoot over 45 percent on catch and shoot jumpers. Al Horford, and you guessed it---Tatum.
One of the best parts about it is that he is showing up against the teams higher up on the standings. Yes, he has failed to surpass that 20-point threshold in two out of the last three games, but against Minnesota, Oklahoma City, and Indiana, three high quality ball clubs, Tatum averaged 37.6 points, and 10 rebounds.
In addition to all this tremendous offensive production, Tatum is putting his teammates in the right position to succeed. The 25-year-old leads Boston in assists since the start of the new year, dishing out five or more dimes in six games, two fewer than his total this month last year. His awareness and basketball IQ has been incredible. You can see the evolution right in front of our eyes. That pass to Derrick White out of a double team to finish off the Raptors the other night was top drawer.
Another thing that stands out from this month is that a good chunk of his assists are coming late in games. 1.6 in the final 12 minutes to be exact, the most of any Celtic. It's also more than double his average in December 2023. That's the quality decision-making in crutch time we waited to see early in his career. It's not about rushing a shot offensively. Tatum has realized that the best shot may not be the one out of his own fingertips.
The Celts' upcoming stretch is tough. Half of their opponents left, before February, are in the top 10 in defensive rating this season. It's nothing "January Jay" can't handle. He put a 45 spot on the best defense in the league just a few nights ago.
There are nonbelievers out there, for sure, but from what we've seen, it's impossible to argue how effective Tatum has been in January of Jayson Tatum's current campaign and in recent calendar years' first months.