Jayson Tatum named a finalist for NBA Rookie Of the Year award

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON –  Jayson Tatum has had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever by a Boston Celtics player. So it's no surprise that it also stacks up favorably with the best first-year players in the NBA this season. The league announced the three finalists for rookie of the year, a group that includes Tatum along with Donovan Mitchell of Utah and Ben Simmons of Philadelphia.

Tatum was expected to be a role player who would spend a good chunk of this season learning the NBA game from teammates Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.

But an injury five minutes into the first game ended Gordon Hayward's season, moving Tatum up a notch on the team's pecking order.

As the season progressed, the 6-foot-8 wing only got better.

And once the playoffs rolled around, Tatum took his game to another level, showcasing an isolation game that generated a ton of points and more important, elevated him to top-of-the-scoring-food-chain status.

In the regular season, Tatum averaged 13.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 43.4 percent from 3-point range.

Tatum has elevated his play in the postseason, averaging a team-best 18.1 points per game along with 4.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range.  He has also had eight playoff games of 20 or more points which is an NBA record for players under the age of 21. And Tatum's 253 total points scored in the playoffs now has him ranked fourth all-time for points scored by a player 20 years old or younger in the postseason, trailing Kobe Bryant (328), Tony Parker (325) and Magic Johnson (293). But of the three ahead of him, only Johnson's numbers came in one season akin to Tatum.

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