With the Boston Celtics hit with an incredible amount of injuries in recent weeks, they desperately needed a player to step up and take responsibility offensively to lead their shorthanded charge.
Kyrie Irving, their leading scorer and go-to guy, is dealing with knee soreness and isn't expected back this week and Jaylen Brown, the second highest scorer, is in the concussion protocol after suffering a nasty fall against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week.
In their absence, rookie Jayson Tatum has come of age and elevated his game just when his team needs it the most.
He has become the focal point of the offence in recent games and he's been adjusting to this new role impressively.
This culminated in one of his best performances of the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.
In a dramatic 100-99 win at TD Garden, Tatum posted 23 points and 11 rebounds and made huge plays throughout the game to keep Boston in it, which included the assist for Marcus Morris' game-winning shot.
It was the rookie's first 20-point, 10-rebound game and even though Morris was the hero with his clutch bucket, the Celtics wouldn't have been in a position to win the game if it wasn't for Tatum.
After the 20-year-old's big display, Thunder superstar Paul George said it was an honour to watch the talent of a player he mentored before he entered the league.
“It’s an honour. It’s great. It’s a special moment. It’s a special bond,” George said, per Celtics Wire. “I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and got to talk to him.
"It’s an honour when you see young talent – I’ve been inspired by many great players in this league and it’s great to re-inspire younger generations and guys coming into this league.”
Despite this being the youngster's first year in the NBA, George believes he's already a star and carries himself like one.
“It’s not even whether he makes shots, just his confidence out there. He looks like a star. He looks like a ballplayer," he said.
"Again, he looks like a star. He doesn’t look like a rookie. He looks like a star in this league. He has that confidence. He has that game.”
The number three overall pick is averaging 13.6 points, 1.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in his debut season.
Under head coach Brad Stevens, he has one of the best coaches in the league to learn from and there's no doubt he's destined for a bright future.
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