Here's where Jayson Tatum ranks on ESPN's list of the NBA's best players originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
He is now in that class.
Tatum averaged career highs with 26.9 points, eight rebounds and 4.4 assists per game during the 2021-22 campaign. He was named an All-Star Game starter for the first time, while also earning his first ever All-NBA first team selection.
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The 24-year-old veteran helped lead the Celtics to the 2022 NBA Finals. He was named Eastern Conference Finals MVP along the way. Sure, Tatum struggled against the Warriors in the Finals, and that was among the reasons why Golden State eliminated Boston in six games, but overall it was a fantastic fifth season for him.
We've reached the point in the offseason where major media outlets are releasing their updated rankings of the top players in the NBA.
ESPN unveiled its new ranking in installments earlier this week, and Tatum came in at No. 7 -- a rise of eight spots from last year's list.
Here are the top 10 players in basketball, per ESPN:
7. Jayson Tatum, Celtics
5. Stephen Curry, Warriors
2. Nikola Jokic, Nuggets
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
Tatum finishing ahead of Durant is pretty impressive, especially when you consider Durant averaged just under 30 points per game last season. Although, Tatum definitely was the better player when the Celtics and Nets met in the 2022 first round and Boston triumphed in a sweep.
The scary thing for the rest of the league is Tatum still has plenty of room for improvement. Consistency and 3-point shooting are two areas he could improve a bit.
But it's definitely encouraging for the Celtics to see Tatum's progression into an elite player over the last two years. He has the talent and work ethic to crack the top five of these rankings in the near future.