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Tatum also constructed his ideal starting five among current NBA players, and it was comprised for Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Los Angeles Lakers power forward Anthony Davis, James at small forward, Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry.
Reigning NBA MVP and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was notably absent from Tatum’s list. In fact, Tatum said he felt Harden was robbed of a second consecutive MVP award last season.
Tatum also said he felt LeBron was the MVP over Giannis this season before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the suspension of the 2019-20 campaign.
James, who is already a four-time MVP, is averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game this season for a Lakers team with the best record in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Giannis is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest for a Bucks team with the best record in the entire NBA.
With regard to some of the other players Tatum mentioned, Durant has not played at all during the 2019-20 season because of a torn Achilles suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals with the Golden State Warriors.
Durant is one of the best pure scorers of all time, though, and he led the Warriors to back-to-back championships over LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers—and won the NBA Finals MVP award both times.
Kawhi was the NBA Finals MVP last year with the Toronto Raptors after previously winning the award with the San Antonio Spurs. In his first season with the Los Angeles Clippers, Leonard is averaging 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, and he has the Clips in the thick of the title race.
Tatum didn’t put himself in that elite company, but the third-year man may not be far off. With career-high averages of 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game this season, Tatum was named an All-Star for the first time.
He has the Celtics in third in the Eastern Conference, and if the 2019-20 season does resume, they will be a threat to reach the NBA Finals.