Boston Celtics

Kendrick Perkins: ‘I'm voting Tatum' for MVP if season ended today

"This is my criteria: the best player with the best record."

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Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum has inserted himself into the NBA MVP conversation with his stellar play as of late.

Tatum entered the All-Star break on a tear. The 25-year-old averaged 28.4 points and 9.3 rebounds while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor over seven games played this month. His torrid stretch was highlighted by a 41-point outburst in the Celtics' 118-110 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

For the season, Tatum is averaging 27.1 points (47.5 percent FG), 8.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game for the best team in basketball. He has led the Celtics to a league-best 43-12 record.

Tatum's performance, particularly over the last month, has sparked MVP chatter. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said it's time to stop overlooking Tatum for the prestigious award. His colleague, former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins, agrees.

Perkins recently caught up with our Chris Forsberg, who asked where Tatum currently ranks on his MVP ballot.

"Oh, I'm voting for Jayson Tatum," Perkins told Forsberg. "If the season stopped today -- and this is my criteria: the best player with the best record. He's doing that. People don't realize the sacrifices that Tatum had to do. Right now, he's averaging right around 27 points a game, eight and a half rebounds. That's monster. And he's shooting 55 percent or close to that as far as his 2-point field goal percentage.

"Look, if the Celtics finish with the number one seed overall, the best record in the league, which I believe they will. Tatum is getting my vote."

As of Friday evening, Tatum has the seventh-best NBA MVP betting odds at +5000 (via Fanatics Sportsbook). He trails Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks), Kawhi Leonard (Los Angeles Clippers), and Jalen Brunson (New York Knicks).

If he continues at his current pace, and the Celtics remain the NBA's top team over their 27 games, Tatum undoubtedly should rise in those ranks. He finished sixth and fourth in MVP voting for the last two seasons.

For now, Tatum will focus on playing in his fifth All-Star Game this Sunday. He'll get the start for the Eastern Conference while C's teammate Jaylen Brown comes off the bench in his third All-Star appearance.

You can watch Forsberg's full exclusive interview with Perkins below, or on YouTube:

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