Making the Case for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the NBA’s Best Duo
Throughout the years, the NBA has had some unstoppable duos. You have to start with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Then you have Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, David Robinson and Tim Duncan, to name a few. While they don’t rank up with any of the mentioned tandems, the Boston Celtics duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown just might be the best in the game today.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown made the big leap last year
It was almost like they were stuck and couldn’t get over the hump. There were plenty of questions surrounding Tatum and Brown during the 2021-22 NBA season. Could the “Jays” finally get the Celtics into the NBA Finals? Could they co-exist? Were they the right guys to lead the team?
All of the questions were valid during the first half of the season. Through the first 50 regular-season games last year, the Celtics underachieved their way to a 25-25 mark. That came after the Celtics finished the previous season 36-36 and were bounced by the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs.
In mid-January, the Celtics turned things around. They went 26-6 in their final 32 games to capture the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with Brown and Tatum leading the way.
Boston got revenge on the Nets in the first round, advancing with a sweep. The Celtics then ousted the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the top-seeded Miami Heat in seven games. For the first time, Tatum and Brown finally made their way to the NBA Finals, where they fell in six games to the Golden State Warriors.
Tatum was selected All-NBA for the second straight year. Brown averaged 23.6 points. In the season opener this year, they both picked up where they left off. They each had 35 points in a 126-117 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
Tatum and Brown are the best one-two punch in the NBA
Tatum and Brown looked unstoppable in the season-opening victory over the Sixers. They combined to make 27 of 44 shots from the floor. Tatum also had a team-high 12 rebounds.
The two became the first pair of teammates to each score 35 or more points in a season opener in 53 years. Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West did it for the Lakers in 1969.
Tatum and Brown looked motivated, hungry to bounce back after being eliminated on their home floor in Game 6 of the championship round. They’re both in their prime, with Tatum 24 years old and Brown 25.
While there are several other dynamic duos in the league, Tatum and Brown lead the pack. LeBron James and Anthony Davis of the Lakers are a would-be challenger, but Davis never stays on the court. The same can be said about Kawhi Leonard, who would be right up there with Clippers teammate Paul George if he could stay healthy.
On paper, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have a shot, but the game isn’t played on paper. Brown and Tatum showed Durant and Irving who’s boss during last year’s playoffs. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are also close, but Thompson is too one-dimensional.
If Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo or Philadelphia’s Joe Embiid had a reliable partner, they might overtake Tatum and Brown, but Khris Middleton and James Harden are well past their prime. Devin Booker and Chris Paul? We’ll take Tatum and Brown.
Tatum and Brown are young. They’re motivated. They have something to prove. That gives them the edge for the top duo in the NBA.
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