Jayson Tatum: The NBA’s Dark Horse for 2023-24 MVP Honors


Every year, as the NBA season approaches, the fiery debate reignites: Who will take home the MVP award? The MVP criterion has always been a hotbed of contention. Is it the best player on the best team? Or the player who had the most exceptional season? The MVP selection process is enigmatic at best. However, one name that’s standing out this year, perhaps surprisingly to some, is Jayson Tatum.

Diving into MVP stats from recent years reveals a pattern. Most MVPs:

  • Enter the season as 26-year-olds on average.
  • Have been three-time All-NBA selections.
  • Rank between 6th and 4th in MVP voting in the preceding years.
  • Lead their team to an average of 59 wins.
  • Clock averages of 45 combined points, rebounds, and assists per game.

Given these statistics, let’s break down why Tatum might just be the next MVP.

Comparing Tatum with Recent MVP Averages

MetricRecent MVPs AverageJayson Tatum
All-NBA Selections33 (2x First Team)
Previous MVP Rank4-66th & 4th
Team Wins5957
Points+Rebounds+Assists/Game4544 (30-9-5)
True Shooting %62.3%60.7%
what will happen next

Tatum’s Path to Greatness

Despite being just 25, Tatum’s achievements have been nothing short of remarkable. Not to forget:

  • He’s a three-time All-NBA selectee.
  • In the past two seasons, he’s placed 6th and 4th in MVP voting.
  • Last season, he had an impressive average of 30-9-5 with a 60.7% true shooting percentage.

Moreover, at the age of 23, Tatum showcased his prowess by overpowering NBA bigwigs like Durant, Antetokounmpo, and Butler, leading his team to the NBA Finals. Though they lost to Curry’s team in a six-game series, it’s crucial to note that Tatum played with a fractured wrist and a shoulder injury.

His resilience was further tested during the Eastern Conference finals of the previous season when an ankle sprain severely affected his gameplay.

A Legacy in the Making

By the end of this season, if Tatum stays on course, he will join the ranks of legends like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Tracy McGrady, and Kobe Bryant, having scored 12,000 career points before turning 26. What’s more striking is that Tatum achieved this despite playing in two pandemic-shortened seasons.

Consider the fact that both James and Durant secured their first MVP awards in their sixth and seventh seasons respectively, a timeline that Tatum eerily mirrors.

Defense: The Game Changer

Notably, Tatum’s ambitions don’t end with scoring. He’s quoted saying:

I want to make an All-Defensive Team.

 A goal that, if achieved, could elevate his standing even further, given he’s received All-Defensive votes in two of the past four seasons.

MVP Odds: The Betting Landscape

Preseason MVP odds place Tatum fourth (+700), following Jokić (+450), Antetokounmpo (+550), and Luka Dončić (+600). However, factors like voter fatigue and recent back-to-back wins for Jokić and Antetokounmpo could tilt the odds in Tatum’s favor.

Challenges from Team Dynamics

Despite these odds, Tatum faces challenges. Playing alongside stars like Kristaps Porziņģis, Jrue Holiday, and Jaylen Brown might impact his ball possession. And while the Celtics are touted to be one of the top teams this season, the MVP often comes from teams that not only perform well but also dominate. The competition is fierce, with teams like the Celtics, Bucks, Nuggets, and Suns leading the projections.

The landscape further shifts when you consider Luka Dončić, who has been sensational but might have the limelight stolen due to his team’s performance. Similarly, the dynamic duo of Jokić and Jamal Murray in Denver’s team-oriented system could be both a boon and a bane for Jokić’s MVP chances.

The Final Shot

One thing’s clear: Jayson Tatum is on the brink of NBA greatness. With a blend of scoring prowess, defensive ambition, and a resilient spirit, he’s crafting an MVP-worthy résumé. The 2023-24 season might be the year Tatum silences his critics and takes his place among the NBA’s elite. All eyes are on the court, awaiting the next chapter in the tale of Tatum’s rise.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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