Throughout this season, Jayson Tatum had been reaching another level in his development as an NBA player. He has been attacking the basket and being much more aggressive then we saw last year. It was a jump that has been a promising sight this season, and it was on full display last night against the Charlotte Hornets.
Tatum scored a career-high 39 points and gather 12 rebounds in a game where he was showing off his full game. It was one of those games where he shows that he can be a superstar in this league. Tatum had everything clicking and his teammates kept feeding his hot shooting night. He went 15-for-29 from the field and 4-for-9 from three. What really stands out about this night is the star-like mentality Tatum took in this game. He knew he was catching fire and did not shy away from continuing to put up the shots. Twenty-nine field goal attempts is a lot for any player, but Tatum took this night in stride and welcomed the challenge to prove he can be the #1 offensive option for the team any given night.
This is exactly what Coach Brad Stevens emphasized post-game. He said, “I was really happy with our team for finding him as he got hot. They were locked into him and that is a good thing.”
The one aspect of Tatum’s game that was on display was his ability to attack the rim. This of course is what Tatum and the Celtics have worked on all off-season making it a necessity for the next jump. Now during the season, this practice has paid dividends for his offense. Six of his fifteen made field goals were around the rim, five were from mid-range, and four were from three-point range. That is a great split for a Jayson Tatum game.
Both of these clips are what we want to see more of from Jayson Tatum. He does not settle but takes it around the first defender and finesses around the second for an easy two-point lay up. He continued to take it to the basket with strength to finish. This not only sets players up in great position, but it can also keep them in an offensive flow by seeing the ball go through the hoop.
As for Tatum, it was a slower start for him as he only had nine points through the first half, so he took a more patient approach. He even commented after the game, saying, “he was trying to more patient” in regards to finishing around the rim. Tatum has understood how to balance his game that he does not rely on attacking too much but can get there if needed. In some games like this last night, Tatum can mix it up and add the mid-range to his arsenal as well.
That mid-range was clicking in this one. Tatum is one of the few players in the league who can rely on a mid-range shot. Normally, most people would say this shot should be avoided, but not for Tatum. His mid-range gets him into a rhythm that then builds into the rest of his game. Against the Hornets, he continuously found open spots on the court and pulled up with his patented fall away jumper. It is near impossible to defend especially when Tatum is feeling his shot.
Here, Tatum perfectly attacked the mismatch on Terry Rozier. Once Tatum saw Bismack Biyombo come help in the paint, he knew to pull up over a much smaller Rozier. He found his spot and drilled the fall away jumper. Classic Jayson Tatum.
Finally, Tatum’s fourth quarter is when his career night took off. He exploded for 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting. Tatum cleared out everyone and dominated anyone who tried to guard him. It was the epitome of being on-fire, especially in his three-point shooting. It stood out in an incredibly impressive way. He made three three-pointers in this quarter that made you really think about his potential.
These two step-back threes were just so smooth. If he can start making these at a consistent level, the league better watch out. His step away from the defender is so smooth following up with a pure stroke. All in all, an incredible one-on-one move. Taco Jay helped put the game out of reach and paved the way for more Tacko Time.
Jayson Tatum has the superstar instinct to take over and control the game on his level. It is something the Celtics will occasionally rely on if their other stars are having an off night. They will all channel around this as a team. Against Charlotte, this was the case. The team saw Tatum heating up, and they cleared the way for him. It was a special night, and it will not be the last of these dominant games.