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Jayson Tatum: From Humble Beginnings

Jayson Tatum was born in St Louis Missouri to parents Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole. Taught by his father at a young age, Jayson quickly showed skills fitting the basketball legacy that ran in his blood. His father, Justin Tatum, and his godfather Larry Hughes are retired basketball players. 

Justin taught his son the importance of the game and the respect for the ones that came before him. However, it was the woman who raised him, his mother Brandy Cole, who taught Tatum how to be tough and to follow his dreams. These lessons, mixed with his natural abilities, led Tatum to being one of the top four scouted prospects coming out of high school with a senior stat line of 29 points/9.1 rebounds per game.

Making A Deal With The (Blue) Devils

Coming into the program, with what was widely considered one of Duke’s most prosperous recruiting years, Jayson Tatum was a highly valued asset to a championship-caliber team. When the time came to put his talents to the test, Tatum sadly got injured during the team’s Pro Day. 

He would go on to miss the team’s first 8 games, before making his return against Maine. What was a bumpy start, quickly turned into a gem. Playing with the likes of Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Frank Mason, Tatum still went on to average 17 points/7 rebounds/1 steal/1 block in the course of the season. These stats, added to other factors, led Tatum to the NBA draft where he was selected 3rd overall by the Boston Celtics.

Life In The NBA

October 17th, 2017, the start of the NBA season, and the day many Boston fans marked on their calendar. Going into the season, the Boston Celtics were riding high. Looked at by most as the team that would dethrone the super teams of the West, the Celtics had one goal in mind, winning an NBA championship. However, not even 10 minutes into the first game, and it all came crashing down. With the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward, the Celtics would need their young players to develop quicker than expected, and that is where Tatum came in play.

Stepping Up For the Team

Normally, when you have a team that is as stacked as the Boston Celtics, you would hope to bring your rookies along one step at a time, somewhere around 20 to 25 minutes per game was the general idea, but, things change. Having to maneuver their lineup, young players Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, etc, would have to step up and play a more important role. 

And to the surprise of many, they thrived. Coming back from losing their first two games, the Celtics went on to win their next 16. Even as a rookie, Jayson Tatum’s skills with the basketball we’re undeniable, and he proved it quickly.

Over-Coming the Rookie Wall

But of course, all good things must come to an end, or maybe not. The rookie wall is the time around mid-season were rookies seem to slow down from hot starts. With college basketball not being as long and physically draining as the NBA, most rookies around this time start to feel the wear on their bodies, and sadly, it could start to reflect on their play. 

However, this mythical wall did not seem to hamper Tatum’s abilities. It was no surprise that by the end of the season, many analysts had Jayson Tatum in the mix for Rookie of the Year. His consistently high level of play and the Celtics record, without two of their best players, made the awards comity take a close look at many people on the team as potential award winners.

Second Best Record in the East

Between Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and coach Brad Stevens all being considered, it’s no surprise that the Celtics finished the season with the second best record in the East. And even though Tatum didn’t win the trophy, finishing third among the candidates, he did make the All-Rookie-First-Team. Accolades aside, the team was focused on bigger goals, and it was time to put their collective skills to the test.

The Games That Matter Most

Seven games were the difference between winning it all or sitting at home watching the victory parade on television. Jayson Tatum and the Celtics were facing their toughest opponents of the season, and when the time came to show everyone what they were made of, the Celtics delivered.

Riding the youth and energy of Tatum, Brown, and Rozier, the Celtics moved past some of the most powerful teams in the Eastern Conference. After beating the Milwaukee Bucks 4-3 in a nail-biting thriller, they then faced Ben Simmons and Joel Embid, handing them a one-sided defeat of 4-1. If there was any doubt that the Celtics deserved to be that deep in the playoffs, without their two All-Stars, there was no doubt anymore.

Conference Finals To Face Lebron

The real challenge was about to begin as they headed to the Conference finals to face the King. A tough battle ensued as experience faced off against youth, LeBron James and the Cavs fought tooth-and-nail to keep the young Celtics team from getting an advantage, and even though Tatum and the Celtics showed a passion that drove them far, in the end, it just wasn’t enough. They fell to the Cavs 3-4 and exited the Playoffs. That was the end of his first season and the start of something more.


Dynamic Scorer

Inside, outside, mid-range, back to the basket, or face up, no matter how Jayson Tatum tries to get the ball into the basket, there’s a pretty good chance that it will end there in the end. An explosive scorer that can finish with either hand under the basket, if you play him close, he’ll blow right past you, however, if you give him too much space, he’ll start knocking down shots like it’s nothing but practice.

High Basketball IQ

Having a high basketball IQ means more than just knowing your history. In most situations, it means being able to read a defense, making good choices on the fly, and putting your team in a position to score the ball. It also has to do with being on defense and understanding how to defend the different looks that the opposing team is showing. But one of the most important aspects of a High basketball IQ is knowing when and how to get your team involved.


Jayson Tatum’s biggest assets as a player is his humility. To be as talented as he is, Tatum doesn’t mind taking the backseat and letting other players on the team get their shot. One of the most underrated qualities of a basketball player today is being able to listen to their coach and putting the team’s needs before their own. Of course, most basketball players want the highest stat line, you’re playing for a contract at the end of the year after all, but understanding that your stats don’t come first is huge. At the end of the day you’re all playing for the same thing, after all, an NBA championship.


Killer Instinct

While being a team player is a very important part of basketball, “There’s No I In Team” etc, etc, one of the best qualities of a true Hall of Famer/ G.O.A.T is knowing when it’s time to take the game over. Players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, all have what is known as the Killer Instinct or for Kobe fans, “Momba Mentality”. They’re not afraid of the big moments, and being willing to get the ball with a simple understanding, “No matter what I have to do, we’re winning this game.” As talented as Jayson Tatum is when those big moments come, he becomes passive. Now don’t get me wrong, he still young, only 20 years old, but if he wants to be considered one of the greatest of all time, this is a mentality that he’ll have to develop.

Light Weight

And while his state of mind grows, he’ll have to do some growing of his own. Right about now, Tatum is the prototype of what Kevin Durant was when he entered the league. Extraordinarily talented, being able to play the 3-4 effectively, but lacking the size when it comes to defense. Tatum is a great defender, but he lacks the size and power to guard other power forwards and some small forwards at his position. Going up against someone like LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the matchup is better suited for Jaylen Brown or Marcus Morris than it is for Jayson Tatum. The reason for this is because they have the strength necessary to keep from being overpowered and backed down.

Looking Towards the Future

There is no doubt Jayson Tatum has a long NBA career ahead of him. His scoring potential alone would make him a 30-35 minutes per game player on any team in the NBA, but when you add in his defensive ability and his Basketball IQ, what you received is a young player that has nowhere to go but up. Fixing the little things like being able to understand when it’s time to take the game into your own hands, and putting on enough weight to be able to guard key positions on the court, will come with time, and being 20 years old, he has all the time in the world.

A rookie patch auto that won’t break the bank can be found in the Crowne Royale boxes. Numbered out of only 199 makes it rare enough to be a competitor on this list. But, nowhere near the top. In my opinion, Crown Royale rookie autograph relics are highly underrated and undervalued. 

A full player portrait silhouette is cut-out and positioned off-set to the right over a player-worn jersey patch. The serial number can easily be found between the player and the Crown Royale logo above the jersey. Directly underneath is the brilliant autograph in dark blue ink. 

Population Report:

Currently, PSA has declared every Tatum autograph relic card submitted to them to be in gem mint conditions. If you’ve got one, submit it. 

If you want an easy Cracked Ice Tatum rookie card, this is the card to get. Now, there are only 25 copies in rotation but because they’re inserts the competition shouldn’t be too stiff. You can expect to pay roughly $300+ for gem mint 10 copy. Raw cards sell for considerably less though. 

Another sign the competition is low on these is because the PSA population report doesn’t have much activity on them yet. Which, can change over time. 

Population Report:

Tatum has 2 Cracked Ice rookie of the year cards in PSA cases. Both are in gem mint 10 cases.  

Inserted 1 per case, the Downtown inserts have caught collectors attention early in the game. Along with Lonzo Ball and Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum is one of the younger players in the 20 player set. Due to their scarcity, the Downtown inserts are collecting large sums at auction. Imagine trying to pull the player of your choice. The odds are heavily stacked against you. 

Population Report:

Tatum is currently leading by landfall in the population reports because he has a total of 17 cards graded. With Donovan Mitchell having the second most, at 9, Tatum is definitely the fan favorite in this set so far. Surprisingly, 16 of the 17 submitted were in gem mint 10 conditions. 

No busy backgrounds and a well-lit player portrait makes this a super clean rookie auto. Next Day Auto’s are highlighted by Donovan Mitchell, Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum with only 40 cards in the set. Interestingly, the set is called “Next Day” because the cards are printed and signed within 24 hours while the Rookie completes his photo shoot.

On Card Autograph

When it comes to rookie autographs, on-card is the way to go. They feel more authentic and genuine. Which, collectors value over the sticker autos that scream high production to meet quota. My only concern with this on card auto is the ink used. I would prefer a red or blue ink, heck even a dark green. In my opinion black ink should not be used for autographs, even on a gorgeoue white background. 

Population Report:

PSA has graded just 6 of the Tatum Next Day autos so far. Only 2 came out in gem mint 10 cases. Traditionally, Donruss has matte cardstock with softer corners, which makes it difficult to get high grades in, to begin with. Throw in a hurried cameraman, printer, player and all the components it took to pull off the Next Day challenge and you’ve got a recipe for dinged up cards. This may or may not have anything to do with a .33% success rate on a brand new, pack fresh card. 


Can you think of a better parallel than the Green prizm for Tatum? The card blends so well with his Celtics uniform. Any Green parallel, for that matter, will look incredible. It’s just too bad they’re so expensive. 

PWCC sold a PSA 10 copy for $1,200 at auction recently. I can only imagine what the seller felt when he checked his PSA submission and saw this card landed a 10. He more than likely saw dollar signs. 

Population Report:

To no surprise, PSA has graded only 1 Green Prizm. With only 5 copies in the world, it’s tough to say if they’ll see any others come in. For now, the owner of this sole card can truly say it’s a 1 of 1. 

Panini played it safe using Playoff’s traditional rookie ticket layout in their 2017 design. Making them highly desired by both old school and new collectors alike. Blue ink was used for the signature which displays nicely right next to the short printed serial number. 

A Contenders’ vertical rookie ticket auto would be an incredible addition to any collection. Especially in gem mint 10 conditions. The matte cardstock is known to chip a little on the edges and corners so don’t expect the 10 population to get very high. 

Population Report:

PSA has graded 7 vertical Tatum autos so far. Surprisingly, 5 graded out to be in gem mint 10 conditions. Pick up a raw copy for around $400 or a PSA 10 for $1,400+.

1 of the 9 unique parallels found in Panini’s Revolution set is the Galactic parallel. Galactic cards can be distinguished by a sunburst refracting pattern in the background and definitely fuel the cards the wow factor. 

Similar to the Downtown insert, the Galactic parallels can be found 1 per case. A pretty incredible hit if finding a star player. Since the availability of the Galactic is unknown, expect the market to be unstable until a better understanding of how many are out there is made. 

Population Report:

A PSA 10 copy recently sold for $1,813 at auction on eBay. PSA has graded 4 copies and only 2 were in gem mint conditions. Which is surely one of the reasons why it accumulated so much attention. 

Panini has collectors chasing their Gold parallels as if they were literally made out of gold. A recent Tatum Gold parallel, in near mint to mint condition, sold for an astonishing $3,550 at auction. No autograph, no player-worn jersey it’s not even a gem mint 10! Can you imagine what the price would have been if it were?

battling it out with bids

18 bidders participated in the auction and submitted 43 total bids. So, it wasn’t a bidding war between two rich guys, it was a large group of 18 which is incredible. I don’t think I’ve seen gem mint 10 copiy sell for this much in any sport. Maybe its due to Probstein123 saying its a “Pop 1, none higher”. Which, they weren’t lying, there is only 1 graded so far. 

Population Report:

Ok, so there is currently 1 Tatum Gold parallel in PSA’s population report, does this make it a 1 of 1? Quite literally, yes. Until another one pops its head up, there is currently only 1 available in a PSA case. A term I feel is often overused and abused. Regardless, this is still a great card and is essential when completing the rainbow of prizms. I just feel it sold for much more than it’s worth. 


It should be no surprise to see Tatum’s Gold Optic auto in the top 3. I honestly think is sold for way less than it’s worth especially when compared to the National Treasures price. 

Being limited to only 10 copies makes this card rare but they do grade pretty tough. So, how many of the 10 copies will land a PSA 10 grade? That is the ultimate way to determine the value. 

Population Report:

Interestingly, the Tatum Optic cards have graded pretty well so far. 2 of the gold autos submitted both achieved the high honor of being in gem mint 10 conditions. Which is great if you have a raw copy. Consider submitting all Tatum Optics rookie card if you’ve got them. 

Rookie cards don’t come any better than Panini’s National Treasures. Rookie auto’s, large player-worn jersey, short print, and elegant design are all major contributors to this cards success. 

Patch auto’s come in both vertical and horizontal layouts. Vertical layouts sell for much higher than horizontal cards. Even though the horizontal layouts have only 49 copies printed, they still sell for less. This doesn’t mean they’re aren’t valuable, it just shows the preference of collectors. 

Population Report:

A major contributor to the price tag of a gem mint 10 copy could be the scarcity. With 13 copies submitted to PSA for grading only 10 landed a gem mint 10. Mint 9’s are selling for high prices due to the lack of 10’s available. 

What are your thoughts?

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