HomeBasketball TodayJayson Tatum of the Celtics sets his sights on the championship, not...

Jayson Tatum of the Celtics sets his sights on the championship, not the MVP title

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For Jayson Tatum, it’s team over individual awards.

The NBA is all about accolades. All-Star appearances, All-NBA nods, scoring titles, MVPs, and plenty of other awards factor into how a player is viewed at the end of their career. But, Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum knows which achievement is most important to him.

Following a 129-112 win over the Chicago Bulls, Tatum was asked for his thoughts on the MVP race. He responded by making it clear to the media that an NBA championship is his number one priority, via CLNS Sports Network.

“I know I can score 30 a night. I did that. But that’s not necessarily what this team needs on a nightly basis,” he said. “I’ve done everything but win a championship, so that’s all I’m going to be judged on at this point in my career. I’m just doing what it takes to help us get to that point.”

The most recent Kia MVP Ladder has Tatum in fifth place, with reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic in first. Although Tatum’s scoring numbers are down from last season, he’s averaging a career-high 4.8 assists per game for the league-leading C’s.

“There’s a lot of guys doing great things,” Tatum stated. “I won’t have the points per game that the other three, four guys will, but I think the voters are smart enough to understand the dynamic of our team. You know, essentially having to do less scoring maybe on certain nights, but still impact the game in a lot of ways to kind of ensure that we win every single night.”

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Against Chicago, Tatum did exactly that, tallying 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. At halftime, Boston trailed by three, and the 25-year-old had just five points in over 18 minutes of play. He responded in the second half though, scoring 15 points in the third quarter to help the C’s regain the lead and never look back.

While that scoring total might not compare to numbers from MVP candidates like Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, it’s good enough to get Boston in the win column. And for Tatum, that’s all truly he cares about.

“It’s not just about me because I’m going to need everybody down the stretch,” Tatum admitted. “We are going to need each other for what we’re trying to do. You know, to try and win a championship.”

This winning mentality will warm the heart of any Celtics fan, yet it’s nothing Tatum hasn’t said before.

For example, following Boston’s dramatic comeback win over the lowly Detroit Pistons in late December, Tatum emphasized that scoring isn’t the only way he can benefit the C’s.

“Just finding little different areas throughout the game, especially on the offensive end, where I can screen for somebody to get open, and they score. It won’t show up on the stat sheet, but I know that that’s impactful for our team.”

After beating Chicago for the second time this season, the Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games. They remain in first place in the Eastern Conference and seven games ahead of the second-place Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Despite all this regular season success, Tatum understands that it won’t mean much if his team can’t raise Banner No. 18 this June. He’s known this for some time, too, staying true to his message even after the unsung victories like the aforementioned one versus Detroit:

“We’ve had so much team success and had our fair of individual success and accolades, and the only thing left is to really win a championship.”

Tatum and company will continue to chase that ultimate goal on Saturday night when they face a revamped, Eastern Conference contender in the New York Knicks.

Daniel Donabedian_headshot

About the Author

Daniel Donabedian is a beat reporter for ClutchPoints covering the Boston Celtics. He’s also covered Villanova men’s basketball and Big East basketball, building a strong reputation in the northeast.

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