Jayson Tatum has already established himself as one of the best players in the NBA. The ascendent Celtics star has made an All-NBA First Team, three All-Star squads and come within two victories of winning the Finals.
With that resume, it’s fair to expect Tatum, 24, will take his game to an even greater level this year.
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But NBA general managers still apparently don’t consider him among the game’s top echelon of stars. In a preseason survey of GMs around the league, Tatum showed up as a top vote-getter in only category.
When asked to predict the 2022-23 MVP winner, 48 percent of respondents selected Luka Doncic. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished second with 34 percent of the vote, with Joel Embiid (14 percent) and Stephen Curry (3 percent) rounding out the list.
Tatum, who averaged 26.9 points per game last season with 8 rebounds, was nowhere to be found.
The dissing continued when GMs were asked to select one player with whom to begin a franchise. More than half of voters chose Giannis, and the other 45 percent selected Doncic.
Curry received the most votes for players who force opposing coaches to make adjustments (52 percent), with Giannis, Nikola Jokic, Doncic and Embiid placing in the rest of the top five.
Tatum received 24 percent of the vote for best small forward in the league, but is far behind Kevin Durant, who garnered 45 percent of the vote.
While the Celtics received some respect as a team -11 percent of GMs said they’re favorites to win the title — the survey results are a reminder they haven’t fully arrived yet. Maybe interim head coach Joe Mazzulla should pass them along to Tatum. Additional motivation never hurts.