Analysts still hopeful for Jayson Tatum after NBA Finals loss


“He’s the cake I want. All I need is the icing on top.”

Jayson Tatum and the Celtics disappointed after losing to the Warriors in the Finals. Jim Davis/Universal Staff

There’s no way, Jayson Tatum will be underwhelming in the 2022 NBA Finals.

The Celtics’ young star is averaging 21.5 points and shooting 36.2 percent from the field. More specifically, Tatum’s 31.6 percent two-point shooting is the lowest of any player with at least 75 two-point attempts in the last 60 NBA Finals, and he’s in the last three games. There are 15 turnovers games.

Despite his disappointment on the biggest stage of his career, some members of the NBA media still believe Tatum has a bright future.

Celtics radio commentator Cedric Maxwell recalled Larry Bird’s scoring struggle in the 1981 NBA Finals, which actually opened the door for Maxwell to win Finals MVP. However, Maxwell shared the differences between Bird and 24-year-old Tatum against the Warriors in that series the Celtics won.

“I don’t think he’s been exposed. I think he’s just not shooting well,” Maxwell said on NBC Sports Boston. “With Jayson Tatum, he’s a huge asset — All-NBA First Team, all the records you talk about. I repeat, when Larry Bird was in his first game [NBA Finals], Larry’s greatness and the difference he has to get, when I talk about Tatum, Larry Bird is averaging 15 points per game, but he’s also averaging 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 14 steals. That’s the difference, and that’s where he has to go.

“He’s the cake I want. All I need is the icing on top. Tatum is averaging 25 points and you have to love it. But again, when you fail, it gives you a chance to grow. I don’t care. Who you are, we all fail. But what does he do next year to get better? Be stronger, bigger, faster and understand that he has to be more explosive to the rim. That’s the icing on the cake and what he has to do Better all things. As a young player who is learning, I’m not going to betray him right now.”

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Tatum, who averaged 27.6 points per game before the Finals, was the reason the Celtics had a chance to win the championship in the first place.

“We don’t have a way to bury this child right now,” Smith said. “He’s still the guy who scored 46 for the Bucks in Game 6 to extend the Eastern Conference semifinals. He’s still the guy who led the team to the Eastern Conference finals.

Smith made a similar point with Maxwell, comparing Tatum’s first Finals to a pair of NBA legends.

“Don’t forget, in Larry Bird’s first Finals, he had only 8 points in two separate games. In Isaiah Thomas’ first Finals, he had only two games Got 10. He had seven turnovers in the other game,” Smith said. “What’s the result? All great men have growing pains.

“I’m not ready to say Jayson Tatum is a player close to their level. But he’s only 24-6-foot-9 [jumper] And mid-range gaming, all that stuff. He had time to look in the mirror and think. He can grow from it and get better. The story of Jayson Tatum’s career isn’t finished yet. I can’t get anyone to say otherwise. My brother has a bright future. I believe in him. “

NBA Hall of Famer and TNT color commentator Reggie Miller also remains high on Tatum’s future. Miller, who didn’t make the Finals until his 13th career season, appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show” where he reflected on his playoff shortcomings and suggested how Tatum should surpass his game against the Warriors.

“Understand and enjoy the disappointment of that series against Golden State,” Miller said. “It’s painful. I’ve been there. At 24, the future is bright. For me, his star is only going up and down. If he can take that pain and use it to his advantage, I think The Celtics are brewing something special.”

Patrick isn’t bullish on Tatum’s prospects, calling his performance “sloppy” and saying his decision-making can be bad at times as the Celtics forward becomes the first player to commit 100 in the playoffs The player who made the mistake. But Miller mentioned that Antetokounmpo shares a similar view with Tatum before winning his first championship at age 26 in 2021.

“I think he can only get better,” Miller said. “… [Better decision-making] It can be learned. That’s through film work, that’s through experience. I’m not worried about Jayson Tatum. I know it’s disappointing because we’re ready to anoint him. I get it, but you can’t discredit what he did to some of the all-time greats in our game throughout the playoffs. He beat Kevin Durant, Giannis and Jimmy Butler. You can’t deny this.

“He’s the Eastern Conference Finals MVP, okay? We’re going to play six games and throw everything else out the window. And all the other big games, those Game 7s where they’re down 3-2, he’s facing elimination, And how big he is. Let’s not throw him under the bus just yet. I think Tatum has room to grow.”

Although there is little doubt that Tatum and the Celtics have a low chance of returning to the Finals next season. NBA Hall of Famer and “inside the NBA” analyst Charles Barkley said he rates several other Eastern Conference teams higher than the 2022-23 Celtics.

“They have a nice little core,” Barkley said on “The Pat McAfee Show.” “But going into next season, you’re not going to pick them over Milwaukee when you’re healthy [Khris] middleton. You wouldn’t pick them up in Brooklyn. There were two teams before I went to Boston now. We don’t know what Philadelphia will do. “

“I keep telling everyone that this year has nothing to do with next year,” Barkley added.

Oddsmakers gave the Celtics the second-best odds to win the NBA championship in 2023, behind the Warriors.

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