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Jayson Tatum has been floating around the top three or so spots in the early race for MVP of the 2022-23 NBA season. We’ve only played a little more than a quarter of the season, but it’s never too early to talk MVP. The Boston Celtics star has been in the mix since the season opener. After Wednesday’s 49-point performance, he’s vaulted into the lead of the KIA MVP rankings, and he’s not the only Celtics player in the top 10.

It’s early, but Jayson Tatum is making a strong case for MVP

Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics looks on during a game against the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden on November 28, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images.

Nobody wants to win more than Tatum. Stung by the loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals, Tatum has been on a mission. He’s been the leader of a team that boasts the best record in the NBA at 18-4. He already has three games this year when he’s gone for 40 points or more.

Tatum has admitted that the loss to the Warriors motivated him and led to a long, grueling summer.

“After losing in the Finals, all I could think about was just get ready to play again and start a new chapter,” Tatum told Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston early this season.

“Said it a million times that it was a long, miserable summer, so I just wanted to get back out here and compete. I just want to win — don’t care about how many points I score. I just want to get back to that point.”

Not only is Tatum averaging a career-high 31.6 points through Boston’s 22 games, but he also has them riding a five-game win streak heading into Friday’s clash with the Miami Heat. Boston has won 14 of its last 15 games.

Tatum is the current leader of the KIA MVP rankings


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Tatum went 8-for-12 from three-point land Wednesday night during his 49-point effort in a victory over the Heat. It’s understandable why he’s now the leader in the KIA MVP rankings.

According to, Tatum jumped up from the No. 2 spot and now is the leader in the early MVP race. Not only is he putting up nearly 32 points per game, but he’s also averaging 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Boston has the No. 1 offense in the league. The Celtics have hit the 130-point mark in their last three games.

At No. 2 is a tie between Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. Doncic has better overall numbers than Tatum, putting up 33.6 points and 8.7 rebounds and 8.7 assists. He’s putting the Mavs on his back, but the Mavericks are under .500 at 10-11.

Jokic is seeking his third straight MVP. He has the Nuggets at 14-7 and is averaging 22.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 8.9 assists.

Another two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is fourth at 31.3 points and 11.5 rebounds. Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns is fifth (29.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists).

Tatum isn’t the only Celtics player in the top 10. Jaylen Brown, who wasn’t ranked last week, climbed into the No. 10 spot. He’s putting up 26.1 points and 6.6 rebounds.

No. 6 through No. 9 are Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Ja Morant, and Donovan Mitchell.