Brian Scalabrine Believes Jayson Tatum is a Top-10 Player in the NBA

Brian Scalabrine joined Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on Monday to discuss the NBA returning and how far he believes the Celtics can go in the postseason.

“I do like the Celtics to come out of the East,” he said. “I will tell you for a few reasons why. I think Brad (Stevens) is going to be remarkable in this environment. Think about it, a free throw happens, he can call his team over and get a really quick 15-second timeout to get guys on track. Remember, I am in a lot of the huddles, especially at home. He doesn’t say much and he gets guys going in the right direction really quickly. Brad will have a big advantage because he’s always making team adjustments as the game goes along. On the road it is a little tougher to do that because of the crowd. At home you can a little bit. I do like that.”

Not only does Scal believe the Celtics will be coming out of the East, but he also believes that Jayson Tatum is already a top-10 player in the NBA.

“And I like what Jayson Tatum has become. Kemba Walker has never in his life been a second option. And that second option can go out there and give you 40. Jaylen Brown is ascending into a big-time two-way player. Jayson Tatum is for sure a top-10 player in the league. The only question is Daniel Theis, (Enes) Kanter, can those guys hold down the fort at that position against like an (Joel) Embiid over the course of a seven-game series, or Giannis (Antetokounmpo). That is the hole in the Celtics.”

Let’s break this down. Brian Scalabrine joins Jalen Rose and Mike Greenberg as the latest NBA analyst who believes the Celtics will be coming out of the Eastern Conference. Since Scal is a Boston guy, this should come as no surprise, but he makes some good points.

Like Rose mentioned when he explained why the Celtics will make it to the NBA Finals, the Celtics should thrive in this neutral-court environment. The Celtics have one of the best coaches in Brad Stevens, and he’ll be a difference-maker as far as getting his team on track and putting his players in the best position to succeed. Not having to play on the road in a seven-game series with benefit the Celtics heavily.

Now let’s analyze Scal’s comment about Jayson Tatum being a top-10 player. Let me say this: Jayson Tatum is not currently a top-10 player in the league. He is the #1 option on the Celtics, which is crazy considering, like Scal said, Kemba Walker has never been a #2 option in his career.

That’s what makes the Celtics so dangerous. The fact that the Celtics are being led by a 22-year-old rising superstar while also having two other players averaging over 20 points is insane. Kemba Walker was meant to be the top option for the Celtics, but even as the #2 option, he can go out there and give you between 20-30 points a night.

Jaylen Brown is already becoming one of the best two-way players that the league has to offer. The jump that both he and Tatum made this season has been nothing short of spectacular. With that being said, that doesn’t mean Jayson Tatum is a top-10 player in the NBA at this very moment.

Right now, I can list ten players that are better than Jayson Tatum:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  2. LeBron James
  3. Kawhi Leonard
  4. Kevin Durant
  5. Anthony Davis
  6. Damian Lillard
  7. Nikola Jokic
  8. Stephen Curry
  9. Kyrie Irving
  10. James Harden

This list is in no real order, so let’s not focus on that. I can probably throw in a few other names as well, but I’ll keep it at that.

The way Jayson Tatum performed this season allowed him to ascend in the rankings for top players in the NBA. He is undoubtedly going to make an All-NBA Team this year, most likely the third team. As great of a season that Tatum had, you can’t ignore how great those other ten players I listed are. Jayson Tatum is in the top-15 range, and he’s close to being a top-10 player.

Jayson Tatum can shoot up the rankings and become a top-10 player if he puts on a show in the playoffs. I think one of the last things Jayson Tatum needs to prove before he joins such elite company is making his mark in the playoffs as a #1 option and defeating the other elite teams in the Eastern Conference. If Jayson Tatum can lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals, then maybe he’ll crack the top-10 list for me.

Brian Scalabrine isn’t crazy for thinking Jayson Tatum is already a top-10 player in the NBA. He proved A LOT this season and made the jump we were all expecting and then some. He’s an exceptional talent that will be a multi-time All-Star and MVP candidate for years to come.

Jayson Tatum is right there, and if he puts on a spectacle this postseason, his name will be mentioned alongside the best players in the league. But at this very moment, I can’t do that.

That being said… I can’t wait to watch Jayson Tatum become a top-10 player right before our very eyes, just like we watched him ascend to stardom during the regular season.

-Dante Turo (@DanteOnDeck)

Photo: Brian Babineau/Getty Images

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