Thursday, February 29, 2024

Brad Stevens weighs in on Jayson Tatum's MVP conversation

Jayson Tatum being in MVP conversations has not died down much since All-Star weekend, when it comes to the forward's credintals. With the national media putting in their two cents on the Celtics' star be deserving of the award or not, it has sparked quite the debate.

On Wednesday, Brad Stevens weighed in on Tatum's MVP candadacy in an interview with WEEI's Gresh and Fauria.
"Jayson has been a stud ever since he came into the league," Stevens said. "Obviously, you knew that it was going to be a path of growth that he was going to take because he takes care of himself. He has a routine. He works really hard. You know, all of those types of things. He should be in any conversation. Listen, there are great players all over the league. And, like I've said when I voted for All-Star stuff when I was coaching, the winning part really matters."
Tatum, fresh off of being two assists shy of a triple-double, as he finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds and eight dimes in the C's latest victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday -- it's just another example of team-first basketball by the five-time All-Star and his all-around game thus far.

Still, for Stevens he views it as some sort of punishment for the early success Tatum has had during his seven-year career. The Celtics president of basketball operations also throws Jaylen Brown into that boat as well for the same criticism they have both have recieved throughout their time in Boston.
"Because of how far they've been, there's going to be more scrutiny. There's going to be more eyes and all the stuff that comes with that. That's just part of it," Stevens said. "So, if he's held to a different standard, it's because he set the bar for it."
Despite the standard Tatum is held to or not, the Celtics star is having another elite season averaging 27.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per contest -- while his team happens to own the league's best record at 46-12 (an eight-game lead for the top spot in the East).

It was just last week that Tatum said he hoped MVP "voters are smart enough" to understand the dynamic of the Celtics this year when his name is taken into consideration.

However, in the same presser and for what feels like most of the season, Tatum can't stress enough that winning MVP -- though a great accolade to add to his resume -- it's not at the top of the list for what he wants to accomplish this year and that is winning his first NBA title.

While the topic is great water cooler talk, Stevens also knows what it would mean to Tatum's legacy as a Celtic to lead and raise the franchise's 18th championship banner -- which has been an even more important subject of conversation within the oranization these days.
"This is a huge talking point outside of our building, [but] it's not a huge talking point in our building. We're very focused on just trying to get better. We all want to be the last team standing. We all know there's a lot in front of us to do that. He'd be the first to tell you, and I don't pay attention to everything he says in the media, but I'm guessing that he would be the first to tell you that for him, it's about winning in June."
In the meantime, the soon to be 26-year-old and the rest of the Celtics have an eventful start to the month of March ahead of them -- including matchups against the Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Clevend Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns (twice in less withn a week span) just to name a few. 

With the next several games set to be nationally televised, look for Tatum to be under a microscope to prove if he's "MVP worthy" within the national media or not as the Celtics remain focused on themselves come down this regular season strecth and into the playoffs.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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