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Celtics star Jayson Tatum says he is NBA's best player

Celtics star Jayson Tatum says he is NBA's best player originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Jayson Tatum is the best player on the NBA's best team.

So, why wouldn't he think he's the league's top player overall?

In a recent interview with ESPN's Malika Andrews, Tatum was asked to name the best player in the sport. After naming Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo last year, Tatum gave a different answer this time: "Myself."

"I've got a lot of respect for a lot of guys in this league," Tatum told Andrews. "Giannis for sure, (Nikola) Jokic obviously just won (a championship), (Joel) Embiid, guys who've won MVPs. The list goes on. The league is in a great place. I truly do believe every night I step out on the floor that I'm the best player."

Tatum has always carried himself with a quiet confidence. But he's shown more emotion and become a better leader as he's gotten old and matured. It's easy to forget he's already in his seventh season with the Celtics.

"Maybe I've kinda grown into my own in a sense. I'm still young, 25, but it's my seventh year in the league," Tatum said. "I'm very confident because I know how hard I work and how much I put into this game. I know how badly I want to be one of the best and how badly I want to win. Why wouldn't I be confident? I know how hard I work."

Tatum became the first Celtics player to average 30 or more points per game last season. He's not scoring as much this season — still an impressive 27 points per game, though — but his assists are up, his field goal percentage is up, his 3-point percentage is up, and his turnovers are down. The Celtics have a more talented and deeper team than last season, too, so there's not as much of a burden on Tatum to dominate every night.

In fact, Tatum thinks this year's Celtics squad is better than the group that reached the 2022 NBA Finals and lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors.

"It is, because I'm better than I was two years ago, (Jaylen Brown) is better, (Kristaps Porzingis) makes all the difference in the world," Tatum said. "Obviously Jrue Holiday, and the way Derrick White has been playing this year compared to two years ago."

Tatum also believes the team chemistry with this group is fantastic.

"I love the way that we're playing," Tatum said. "Obviously I love our record, 43-12, but the way that we're playing, the way guys are coexisting together, there's a difference from last year. And we had a really good team last year, but I love where we're at this year compared to last season."

The Celtics sit atop the league standings coming out of the All-Star break. They'll resume their regular season schedule Thursday against the Bulls in Chicago.