Photo: NBA.com

Jayson Tatum is slowly developing into one of the leading stars in the NBA for the Boston Celtics, producing a number of outstanding performances in his third season in the league. The 21-year-old impressed during his rookie campaign after being selected third overall by the Celtics in the 2017 Draft. However, his progress was impeded by the dysfunction of the franchise last season when Brad Stevens’ men underperformed amid on and off-the-court drama involving Kyrie Irving.

Since the departure of Irving in the off-season and the arrival of Kemba Walker at the TD Garden, Tatum’s game has gone from strength-to-strength. In recent weeks, Tatum has put the team on his back to deliver crucial wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. The victory over the Clippers was extremely impressive given that the game was decided in the second phase of overtime, with the forward notching 39 points to outduel Kawhi Leonard.

As a result of Tatum’s performances, the Celtics are in contention for the Eastern Conference crown and an NBA Finals berth, being backed at 8/1 in the leading bookmakers found using www.sportsbettingcanada.org, providing sign-up bonuses for joining online. That is a solid price for the Celtics given their potential, while the rest of the competition outside of the Milwaukee Bucks have been inconsistent over the term, although the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors have been resurgent of late and will be determined to hang on to their crown.

Toppling the Bucks or the Raptors will be a massive challenge, not just this term but for the seasons to come. It’s why the development of Tatum is huge for Boston. In 2013 they took the gamble to trade away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to accumulate draft picks from the Brooklyn Nets. It has paid dividends after a couple of seasons in the doldrums, landing Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Trading away legends may have hurt the team in the short term, but their rising talent have been performing a way that suggests new legends could be in the making. They might just bring titles back to Boston, as highlighted by TheBigLead.com.

Tatum’s statistics are encouragingly ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is at the same stage of his career. The Greek averaged 16.9 points per game in his third year in the league compared to Tatum’s 22.4 at the time of writing. That figure could rise even further by the end of the campaign. Stevens has placed trust in the young forward in the crucial times in games to deliver – notably against the Clippers, while his form against the Lakers and LeBron James was also outstanding. On that occasion, he took the game away from LeBron and Anthony Davis, while in a one-on-one matchup with Leonard – he dominated the Clippers man according to the BostonGlobe.com.

Rising to the occasion against your opposite number is crucial in the NBA more so than any sport in the United States. Tatum seems to relish the spotlight and is not afraid to take on the big shots when it matters the most. In the playoffs that could be the crucial element in deciding the Celtics’ fate this season. Boston needs another icon to rise following the departure of Mookie Betts from the Red Sox, while Tom Brady’s future with the New England Patriots is far from certain. It’s time for the Celtics to rise and Tatum appears to be the man to spearhead their charge.