Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons have stolen the headlines as Rookie of the Year candidates this season and rightfully so.
On Monday night, Jayson Tatum reminded everyone he's a rising star too. Tatum finished with 28 points on 50% from the field in the Celtics' 117-101 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-final match-up.
It was his third straight 20-points in the playoffs matching former Boston great and current team tv analyst Tom Heinsohn (1957). He's one game away from tying Larry Bird for the record at four straight 20-point games by a rookie set in 1980.
"I thought he was great," 76ers head coach Brett Brown said of Tatum after the game. "He's had an exceptional year. He's got a bounce - he plays a lot, sort of, older than his resume suggests."
"I thought tonight he scored in a variety of way - I thought he was excellent."
The Celtics drafted Tatum third overall in the 2017 draft well before adding Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. The 20-year Tatum was expected to be an important piece to the Celtics' bench unit instead he started 80 games for the injury-riddled team. Only Aron Baynes (81) featured in more games than the dependable rookie.
With yet another body out due to injury in Jaylen Brown, the scoring load was once again pushed on to Tatum and like he has all year he delivered.
When Irving went down in late March it was Tatum who elevated his game on both ends of the floor - he continues to do so in the playoffs.
Heading into Game 1 against the 76ers Tatum was averaging 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds on 40.2% shooting from the field. Third best for rookie only trailing the aforementioned Simmons and Mitchell.
He may not end up being the rookie of the year but for the Celtics, he's the rookie they needed.