Jayson Tatum is showing how much more he can do that just shoot threes for the Boston Celtics
It did not take long for Jayson Tatum to shatter any realistic expectations there were for him going into this season. He has played masterfully in every single role that Stevens has given him, and he continues to be one of the most efficient scorers in the entire NBA.
The efficiency really was the most remarkable part. There was a time where he looked like he could maintain shooting over 50 percent overall and over 50 percent from three. Tatum was leading the league in three point shooting by a wide margin, and he was hitting some of the biggest shots in the biggest games.
His three point shooting alone made him incredibly valuable to the Celtics, but pure three point shooting has never been the reason why he is trusted to play entire fourth quarters in important games.
For the first time of the season, we are seeing Tatum’s shooting dip a bit, all the way down to 46.2 percent. There is absolutely no reason to be close to concerned about a three point percentage like that, but going through this minor stretch has helped emphasize how many other great things Tatum does.
More from Hardwood Houdini
The three point shooting was certainly the most staggering, but nothing about his role has changed over these last few games where he is struggling to hit the three pointer, and he is still having a massive impact any time he is on the court.
The most unexpected part of Tatum’s game this season has to be the defense. People were expecting him to have a lot of work to do on that end before being ready in the NBA, but that could not be further from the truth. Tatum was able to hold his own on defense immediately, and was actually able to help in small ball situation.
The Celtics knew their defense had to get better on the boards, and they could not expect a huge boost from the front court. Tatum’s 5.5 rebounds per game are a big part of that, making life a lot easier on top defensive player of the year candidate Al Horford.
Tatum started struggling from three point range for the first time of the year during this stretch, then he comes out with six blocks and three steals against the Nets. We can easily see how Tatum can be a game changer on offense, but seeing his defense shine over his offense is exactly what the Celtics want to see when he is struggling in any way.
And, of course, Tatum hit the dunk and the three that closed out the game against the Nets, showing that he will always have confidence on that end no matter what his recent percentages might be. Tatum has all the traits that you cannot even dream of seeing in a rookie, and to pair all of this with some of the best three point shooting in the league gives him as much if not more potential than any other rookie this season.
Brad Stevens will always be using Tatum as a three point shooter, but there is only so much more he can do in that area of his game. Tatum is an intelligent shooter who does not miss when he is open, and does not force anything. Now is the time when we want to see these other things shine more than the three point shooting.
Tatum has been more than good enough from three to ensure that you do not have to worry about these kinds of slumps taking over his season. Hopefully, this slump will only lead to him exploring the other aspects of his game more.
We have already seen him put multiple players on posters, and finish the kind of layups that seem impossible at every point before it falls through the hoop. Tatum is exploring the other things he can do on offense and the days of him getting under double digit shot attempts should be over.
We are starting to get more indications of how complete a player Tatum is going to become, and there could still be a lot of progress before the post season comes around.
Tatum’s three point shooting may be unprecedented for a rookie, but the other parts of his game are going to be the most exciting part for the rest of the season. The amount of polish he has finishing at the rim is second to only Kyrie Irving on the team, and he is making plays on defense.
He shows no fear guarding even the best players in the NBA, and just as he had the clutch offense against the Nets, he had that game saving block on Harden against the Rockets. Tatum is proving to be one of the most valuable players on both ends for this team, while knowing his role should grow more than anyone else.
It is still too early to tell exactly what Tatum will become for the Celtics, but he is showing the kind of ability to become the most complete player on this roster.