LeBron James explains why he thinks Jayson Tatum is elite: ‘A lot of winning in his career so far’


LeBron James gave major praise to Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum while on his new podcast venture with former NBA player JJ Redick, “Mind the Game.” While talking about Tatum’s growth over the years, James pointed out the amount of success he’s experienced while still being rather young.

“He’s 25 years old and I believe he’s been to the conference finals four times, been to the NBA Finals once, he’s 25 years, I didn’t win my first one until I was 28, I think [Jokic] won his first one at 27, I think [Michael Jordan] was 28 as well,” James said. “I think we have a lot of expectations on [Tatum], but he’s experienced a lot of winning in his career so far. Obviously, everyone wants to see him get over the hump, but four conference finals and a Finals appearance before the age of 26 is – that’s elite.”

James continued to talk about their prospects of making another deep postseason run this year, too.

“He continues to grow, and they are in a position to make another title run,” James said. “And like you said, personnel helps. Add [Kristaps] Porzingis and getting Jrue [Holiday] for a bag of Lay’s potato chips, that helps as well. But when you go and you start scouting for Boston, [Tatum’s] the No. 1 guy, for sure.”

Tatum’s been once again operating at an MVP level, averaging 27.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and five assists while shooting 47.4% from the field and 37.9% from deep. While he does get the attention of All-Star nods, All-NBA honors, and being mentioned in the MVP conversation, he’s still a bit underrated. As LeBron pointed out, he’s been operating at such a high level since he entered the league. He immediately contributed to winning in his rookie season, helping get the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals while leading Boston in scoring in the postseason with 18.5 points, again as a rookie. That’s not normal for most players entering the league.

Tatum has never experienced a season without making the postseason and has only lost in the first round once in his seven years in the NBA. While he hasn’t managed to reach the ultimate goal of winning a championship, that doesn’t discount the massive success he experienced before turning 26. As someone who underwent massive amounts of criticism from the moment he entered the NBA, James is the perfect person to give perspective on that.

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