Tomase: Jayson Tatum made NBA history with this unprecedented stat


Jayson Tatum keeps making history.

Anyone who has watched the Celtics forward since he was selected third overall in the 2017 NBA Draft can see that over the last six seasons he has steadily improved from promising youngster to All-NBA superstar.

But one stat crystallizes his growth better than any other.

By averaging 30.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.6 assists this season, Tatum became the first player in NBA history to improve all three of those averages in each of his first six seasons. Six other players had done it over their first five years, including Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Kevin Garnett, but none carried that momentum into a sixth campaign.

Tatum is the lone exception. From his relatively humble beginnings in 2017-18 averaging a shade under 14 points a game as a teenager to the MVP candidate he has transformed himself into today, he has continually made himself a more complete player.

He improved tremendously as a facilitator midway through last season, resulting in his assists nearly tripling from the 1.6 he averaged as a rookie. He has also become one of the team's most reliable defensive rebounders, with a career-high 31 double-doubles.

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As for his scoring, Tatum can win at all three levels, whether it's shooting 3-pointers at a 35 percent clip, abusing smaller opponents in the mid-range, or finishing with either hand at the rim.

He just became the first Celtic to average more than 30 points a game in a single season, breaking Larry Bird's 35-year-old record of 29.9, and with the C's intent on avenging last season's Finals defeat to the Warriors, they'll likely advance as far as Tatum and his all-around game can carry them.

Sometimes it's easy to take Tatum's greatness for granted, but the numbers paint the picture of a player who just keeps getting better and better.

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