Jayson Tatum shows flashes of brilliance. Then the Boston Celtics star looks like a below-average player. When his team needed him most this postseason, he came up big. In Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks — an elimination game on the road — Tatum stepped up big time. He finished with a game-high 46 points, dominating from start to finish.
The performance came on the heels of a 10-point output in Game 3 of that series. Tatum also had another 10-point clunker against the Miami Heat. He’s been inconsistent throughout the playoffs, especially for someone many believe is a top-10 player in the league.
Even he questioned himself. Before the start of the 2022 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, he admitted he wondered if he was the right guy to lead the team.
Jayson Tatum has often been asked about his leadership role with the Boston Celtics
It’s still tough to believe Tatum is just 24 years old. He’s in his fifth year in the NBA but still shows signs of immaturity. He’s had a tough time letting a play go, oftentimes arguing a non-call and getting beat on the defensive end. Tatum’s not a vocal player, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a leader.
His demeanor on the court gets him in trouble when the topic of being a leader pops up. He’s been questioned about his leadership role often.
It came up at the beginning of the season.
“It’s something I’ve been asked a lot,” he told the media in October, per Celtics on NBC Sports Boston. “I guess it’s a hot discussion… I think I’ve gotten better and more comfortable with that role year after year.”
Leadership, whether it was from Tatum or first-year head coach Ime Udoka, was a hot topic during the early part of the season. The Celtics blew several significant leads in the second half of games. Players grew frustrated with each other as they underachieved their way to a 25-25 mark through 50 games. Udoka often questioned his team’s effort.
Tatum might not be the vocal guy, but he’s the star that makes the Celtics go. And go they did, finishing the regular season with a 26-6 mark and earning their way to the NBA Finals.
Before this season, the Celtics had been to the Eastern Conference Finals three of the last five years. They never reached the NBA Finals in that stretch. Tatum has helped get them over the hump and into the championship round.
Tatum admitted to questioning himself about being the right guy to lead the Celtics
Tatum’s biggest problem is his inconsistent play. He has all the tools to become a top-five player in the NBA but doesn’t show it consistently.
He and Jaylen Brown have been together since 2017 and have always been looked upon as the future of the team. The two stars are heading into the primes of their careers and needed to take the Celtics to the next level. They’ve done that.
Heading into the 2022 NBA Finals, Tatum admitted he wasn’t sure if he was the right guy to lead the team. He said he questioned himself but never doubted his ability to lead the way.
“I’ll be honest, there have been times where I’ve questioned, ‘Am I the right person to lead a group like this?'” he said. “I never doubted myself, but just moments after some of those losses and tougher parts of the season, it’s human nature to kind of question yourself.
“Just always stick to what you believe in. Trust in the work that you put in. It can’t rain forever.”
He’s showing his leadership in other ways than being vocal. He’s getting his teammates more involved. When Tatum is having a rough shooting night, he’s finding a way to get them involved.
A little more consistent play and a little less whining at the officials, and there will be no questioning whether Tatum is the right guy to lead the Celtics.