Boston Celtics

Paul Pierce has strong take on Jayson Tatum's place among NBA's best

Is Tatum the best American-born player right now?

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum gave arguably his best performance of the season Monday night in a 114-98 win over the New York Knicks at TD Garden, and it caught the attention of a C's legend.

Tatum scored a season-high 35 points on 13-for-23 shooting (5-for-12 from 3-point range) with seven assists and six rebounds in 39 minutes. Seventeen of his points came in the fourth quarter.

Paul Pierce was quite impressed with Tatum's outing, so much so that the 2008 NBA Finals MVP declared the Celtics superstar the best American player in the NBA right now.

Hot take? Not really, actually.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid are four players you could say are better than Tatum. All four were born overseas.

Tatum's toughest competition for the title of best American-born player is probably Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who beat Tatum's Celtics in the NBA Finals just two seasons ago. Curry is off to a hot start this season, averaging a career-high 30.7 points on 44.6 percent 3-point shooting.

Tatum has been a first team All-NBA selection in each of the last two years, and so far this season he's averaging 28.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game, while shooting a career-best 52.6 percent from the floor.

Tatum vs. Curry for best American player is a pretty good debate, and perhaps we'll get a better idea of who has the lead when they match up for the first time this season Dec. 19 in Golden State.

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