According to the folks at ESPN, star Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is ranked as the No. 7 player in the league according to the 2022-23 season's NBA ranking exercise conducted ahead of each season by the popular sports outlet.
"Coming off his first All-NBA appearance, winning the Eastern Conference finals MVP, making his first trip to the NBA Finals, and playing for a team that is projected to contend for the league's best record, Tatum is primed to make yet another leap entering his sixth season," begins ESPN analyst Tim Bontemps in his discussion of why the St. Louis native is ranked so highly heading into next season.
Let's dive into the meat of the rationale behind Tatum's top 10 breakthrough.
After Tatum didn't make any of the three All-NBA teams in 2020-21 when the Celtics finished seventh in the East, he was a deserving first team member this past season after leading Boston's dramatic turnaround from being under .500 in late January to finishing second in the East and advancing to the Finals for the first time since 2010," adds Bontemps.
"Along the way, Tatum set a career-high of 26.9 points per game, continued to raise his 3-point attempt rate, and remains one of the best two-way wing players in the league."
"Tatum made some strides as a passer last season - something coach Ime Udoka has stressed since arriving last summer - but continuing to improve that part of his game is what will allow him to go from a player in the back half of the top 10 to one competing for the top spot on this list," continued the ESPN analyst.
"Although his assist total essentially remained unchanged year-to-year in the regular season, they shot up during the playoffs, including averaging seven per game during the Finals."
"He'll also look to bounce back from a disappointing showing in his series against the Golden State Warriors, where he shot 30.8% from 2-point range across six games," suggests Bontemps.
For the Duke product to maximize his potential this coming season, the Celtics front office has some work to do in selecting players able to help carry the load during the regular season to a much greater degree than might otherwise be the case.
But off-court issues currently taxing the organization's on-court focus aside, Boston is in a relatively good position to do so even after the news that big man Robert Williams III might be out until the next calendar year.
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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire