Two of the finest players Bradley Beal Elite has ever produced were chosen as NBA All-Stars on Thursday.
Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers were selected to the 2022 Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
Making his 3rd #NBAAllstar appearance… Jayson Tatum of the @celtics.
Drafted as the 3rd pick in 2017 out of Duke, @jaytatum0 is averaging 25.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 4.1 APG for the Celtics this season. pic.twitter.com/bt0lNl8Qso
— #NBAAllStar (@NBAAllStar) February 4, 2022
Making his 1st #NBAAllStar appearance… Darius Garland of the @cavs.
Drafted as the 5th pick in 2019 out of Vanderbilt, @dariusgarland22 is averaging 19.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG and 8.2 APG this season. pic.twitter.com/GJqrhwMqBf
— #NBAAllStar (@NBAAllStar) February 4, 2022
For JT it’s his third such honor, while Darius, just 22 years old and in his third NBA season, will make his All-Star debut.
“It was a lot,” Darius told The Athletic of learning he was selected for the first time. “I called my parents instantly. My parents were just crying. Bawling, crying. Just a lot of excitement. For me being this young I mean, it’s just super cool just having this experience, having this moment. So just very blessed.”
Darius will also be the lone player representing the hometown Cavaliers in the All-Star Game, which will be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, so he’ll be playing host while holding down his first All-Star appearance.
“It’s super cool just to be in the same city, just representing the Cavs organization, representing Cleveland, representing the fans and just the whole city and whole state,” he said.
As of Thursday, the Cavs guard is averaging career highs in points per game (19.8) assists per game (8.2, tied for 6th in the NBA), and rebounds per game (3.3), while shooting 46.7 percent from the field, also a career-best. Meanwhile, his Cavs are one of the season’s most pleasant surprises. At 32-21, Cleveland currently sits 5th in the Eastern Conference, but just a-game-and-a-half behind the Chicago Bulls for not only first place in the Central Division but first in the conference at-large.
“This is a moment for Darius, and we need to make sure we allow him to have his moment and understand how important it is for him. His understanding of it is, it’s about the team. Again, if the team is not successful, if the team is not winning, if his teammates aren’t helping him, then he doesn’t achieve this. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to continue to push the message of individual success coming from what the team does,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “His ability to persevere through difficult times, he put the time in and impacted winning. At the end of day, that’s the most important thing in our league that people respect, is how you impact winning. He’s been a game-changer for us.”
For Jayson, now recognized as one of the league’s elite players on an annual basis, the All-Star honor is becoming a habit, as he grabs his third straight nod in his fifth season. JT is currently tied with MVP candidates Nikola Jokic and Stephen Curry for eighth in the league in scoring at 25.9 points per game, just a hair off his career-high of 26.4 set last season. Celtics coach Ime Udoka believes Tatum’s season is flying under the radar a bit due to the Celtics, who currently sit ninth in the East at 28-25, getting off to a tough start as a team this season.
“Has been playing extremely well, we’re all proud of it, of him, what he’s done,” said Udoka. “We all congratulated him out there, and he gave thanks to the team and everybody for helping him achieve that, and for him it’s a standard that he set, a goal he achieved, and then all-NBA and eventually in the MVP conversation.”
In addition to keeping up his MVP-caliber scoring, JT is averaging a career-best 8.4 rebounds per game, and dishing out about four assists a night.
“Just finding other ways to impact the game,” JT said. “I started off not shooting great, been shooting better as of late, seeing some shots go down. But still trying to dominate the game even though it hasn’t been the ideal season. Just trying to figure it out.”
Jayson has a chance to start in the game for the second straight season if starter and captain Kevin Durant bows out of the game with a knee injury as expected.
The 2022 NBA All-Star Game will be played on February 20, 2022 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. The format will once again feature teams captained by the highest vote-getters pitted against one another rather than the traditional East vs. West format, leaving a chance that Darius and Jayson will play against one another in the game. Durant and LeBron James are the two captains and will select their teams on Thursday, February 10. Both the draft and the game will be broadcast on TNT.