Stephen A. Smith admits Jayson Tatum should be 'a leading' NBA MVP candidate

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Stephen A. Smith admits Tatum should be 'a leading' NBA MVP candidate originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

A Boston Celtics player hasn't won the NBA MVP since 1985-86 when Hall of Fame forward Larry Bird won the award for the third consecutive season.

That drought could realistically end in 2023.

Jayson Tatum is off to a tremendous start this season. The Celtics forward is averaging a career-high 30.5 points, along with 7.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

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Tatum's stellar play is one of the main reasons why the Celtics have the league's best record at 16-4 entering Monday night's game versus the Charlotte Hornets.

Last week, Tatum and the Celtics clashed with a top candidate for MVP in Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic. Tatum scored 37 points with 13 rebounds, five assists and two blocks as the Celtics earned an impressive 125-112 win at TD Garden.

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Tatum's performance versus the Mavs was enough for ESPN's Stephen A. Smith to label him as "a leading candidate" for league MVP.

Check out Smith's take in the video below:

Oddsmakers agree that Tatum is a legit MVP candidate. He has the third-best MVP odds on DraftKings Sportsbook at +330, behind only Doncic (+300) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (+270).

These three players have established themselves as the upper-tier of MVP contenders. The player with the next-best MVP odds is Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry all the way down at +850.

The combination of great stats and the Celtics finishing with the best record in the NBA might be enough for Tatum to win MVP, but we still have about 75 percent of the regular season still to play.