Back in December 2022, Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum led ESPN’s first MVP straw poll of the season with 759 points. Midway through the season, Tatum is still in the conversation for the NBA’s top player. The Boston Celtics currently hold down the top spot in the Eastern Conference, with the Sixers and Bucks trailing behind the C’s with over four games separating them.
Tatum currently averages 31.2 PPG, and his team has the best record in the league. Tatum earned MVP chants on MLK Day vs the Charlotte Hornets, putting up 51 points in 40 minutes. He’s had five 50+ point games in his young career. Tatum has been trending upward since entering the league in 2017, and coming off a Finals loss to the Golden State Warriors, Tatum has much more to prove.
Being one-half of one of the best duos in the NBA, Tatum shines in many aspects on the court. With the other half of “The Jays” (Jaylen Brown) averaging 27 PPG and a league best 3.3 assists per game, Tatum remains in good company. Simply put, if the Celtics can stay on top of the Eastern Conference, Tatum has a great chance to win MVP.
While Tatum would get my MVP vote (if I had one), there are other superstars around the league that some would deem worthy of the title. Nikola Jokic, the reigning MVP from the Denver Nuggets continues to put up MVP-like numbers. Averaging 25 PPG and essentially obtaining a triple double every time he steps on the court, Jokic is carrying his team and currently leading the race for MVP.
Trusting the process seems to bode well for another MVP candidate in Philadelphia. Joel Embiid is averaging 33 PPG and his 76ers are keeping their pace with a two-way tie with the Milwaukee Bucks at the number two spot in the East. Since coming back from an injury at the beginning of January, Embiid has been able to put his team on his back as they look to continue to gain steam with a current five-game win streak.
While the NBA is full of talented bigs who can play both ends of the court well, Jayson Tatum should be at the top of that list. His ability to gel with his teammates while also being one of the leaders in the Celtics’ locker room is not something that shows up on the stat sheet. For Tatum to win MVP over other stars like Jokic and Embiid, the C’s have to continue to win and Tatum has to continue to separate himself both offensively and defensively.
Coming off a tough Finals loss to the Warriors could be the factor that continuously pushes Tatum towards greatness. These other stars are not going away anytime soon, but neither is Jayson Tatum or the team that has been constructed with the young superstar in mind. It would not be a surprise if the Celtics made it back to the Finals this season. It would not be a surprise if they won and it absolutely would not be a surprise if this is the year that Jayson Tatum wins his first MVP award.