Over the next few weeks, I will be analyzing and grading different Celtics players. I will take take into account each player’s development over their career while looking more closely at what they’ve produced this season. We’ll open up this series with Jayson Tatum.
Jayson Tatum was drafted by Boston back in 2017, and quickly captured the league’s attention at 19 years old. He averaged 13.9 points per game on 54 percent shooting. While Tatum played great during the regular season, he erupted in the playoffs and led the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
In Tatum’s second year, he was the perfect example of the “sophomore slump”. Tatum entered the season lacking the energy he brought in his rookie season. Despite improving his points per game, Tatum couldn’t find his rhythm throughout the season which contributed to the Celtics early playoff exit.
Entering this season, there was a lot of doubt surrounding Tatum due to his struggles last year. However, Tatum has taken command of the Celtics and has earned his first All-Star appearance.
Now that we’ve taken a look at his career season by season, let’s analyze his strengths and areas for improvement.
Finishing – In his first two seasons, Tatum struggled to finish around the rim and often had the ball stripped while driving. Now, Tatum can score through contact and throw down vicious dunks over defenders.
Creating shots – Tatum is one of the best players in the league at creating his shot, due to training with Kobe Bryant back in 2018. Tatum ranks third in shooting percentage on pull up three-pointers and also has mastered the step-back jump shot.
Defense – Tatum’s ability to block shots is highly underrated, and his on-ball defense has improved each year he’s been in the league
Transition – The Celtics defense creates tons of fast break opportunities, which Tatum utilizes by always being ahead of the ball. If he gets the ball in the open court, Tatum is very good at finding the open teammate or taking it to the rim himself.
Clutch shooting – Tatum is exceptional in the clutch. He can knock down big shots at the end of games, which is an attribute that very few players possess.
Areas for Improvement
Passing – Tatum ranks near the bottom of the league in assists despite playing nearly 34 minutes per game. This is an attribute he should develop more of as his career progresses.
Shooting percentage – Tatum takes a lot of tough shots throughout a game which results in a low shooting percentage. While I do think his shooting stats undermine how good of a shooter he is, it is something he needs to improve going forward.
Free throws – Tatum’s free throw percentage (81 percent) is not horrible, but due to the number of times he gets to the line each game, it has become an area for improvement
Jayson Tatum is becoming a superstar in the NBA. He’s one of the best scorers in the league, dominant in transition, and makes tons of plays on the defensive end. If Tatum fine-tunes some of the little parts of his game, I see him winning an MVP sometime in the next few years. The Celtics have the future of the NBA in their hands, all they need to do now is pay him.