Jayson Tatum Needs His Own Thread

DannyDarwinism

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Travis Ford (who’s apparently a Celtics fan because he loves Marcus Smart so much after he coached him at OSU), thinks Tatum will be the best player in the league in 2-3 years. This certainly could be the coach of the local team (SLU) pumping up the hometown kid for the local paper, but he sounds sincere to me.


Fluff pieces aside, his ability to process information, both in the flow of the game, and in terms of figuring out what he needs to incorporate into his game to progress as player, is unlike anything I’ve seen on the Celtics (a bit too young to appreciate Bird’s growth), and really more like Tom Brady than any other Boston athlete I can think of. The way he’s whipping around pinpoint skip passes as soon as he makes a read now is crazy. I’m sure we’ll start seeing it with his off hand soon enough. His bag is so damn big that it’s easy to overlook his defense, but it’s incredible. Like, “10 year vet, defensive specialist who provides nothing on offense but is still worth a starting spot on a playoff team“ good.
 

Jimbodandy

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Travis Ford (who’s apparently a Celtics fan because he loves Marcus Smart so much after he coached him at OSU), thinks Tatum will be the best player in the league in 2-3 years. This certainly could be the coach of the local team (SLU) pumping up the hometown kid for the local paper, but he sounds sincere to me.


Fluff pieces aside, his ability to process information, both in the flow of the game, and in terms of figuring out what he needs to incorporate into his game to progress as player, is unlike anything I’ve seen on the Celtics (a bit too young to appreciate Bird’s growth), and really more like Tom Brady than any other Boston athlete I can think of. The way he’s whipping around pinpoint skip passes as soon as he makes a read now is crazy. I’m sure we’ll start seeing it with his off hand soon enough. His bag is so damn big that it’s easy to overlook his defense, but it’s incredible. Like, “10 year vet, defensive specialist who provides nothing on offense but is still worth a starting spot on a playoff team“ good.
His development is really remarkable at both ends. The speed is nothing that I've seen before. Some guys enter the league with way more of this or that skill than we thought they had--and he clearly did with better shooting than advertised--but he takes enormous leaps not only in the offseason but during the season.

Regarding Bird, he was a savant when he first walked into the Celtics locker room. Not that he didn't add skills during his career, but he was a 23yo rookie (after the lost time at IU and working a day job in French Lick before the ISU coach finally talking him into coming there). Bird's development was pretty much skills-based, where Tatum is both adding skills and BBIQ leaps and bounds.
 

DannyDarwinism

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His development is really remarkable at both ends. The speed is nothing that I've seen before. Some guys enter the league with way more of this or that skill than we thought they had--and he clearly did with better shooting than advertised--but he takes enormous leaps not only in the offseason but during the season.
Right on cue, a great in-depth piece on Tatum’s rapid growth as passer, and it’s implications for his ceiling, comes out today:


Definitely recommend reading this article, and watching the video clips in it, to contextualize the leap we’re seeing now. A great pregame read to get Celtics fans amped up!
 

lovegtm

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Now maybe the refs will start giving him superstar treatment.
He's already started to get it these playoffs. Getting a lot of borderline calls when he creates a slight advantage and goes for contact. Huge development for his efficiency.

The dude is such a defensive stud now. He was stoning everyone on Toronto who went at him, with his usual awesome help defense. The Celtics just smothered the Raptors' offense for 7 straight games, and he was a huge part of that. His not being at least 2nd-team All Defense is a travesty.
 

djbayko

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He's already started to get it these playoffs. Getting a lot of borderline calls when he creates a slight advantage and goes for contact. Huge development for his efficiency.

The dude is such a defensive stud now. He was stoning everyone on Toronto who went at him, with his usual awesome help defense. The Celtics just smothered the Raptors' offense for 7 straight games, and he was a huge part of that. His not being at least 2nd-team All Defense is a travesty.
Someone in the game thread had an astute observation about Tatum (mostly on the offensive end). He's already a superstar, and yet you can plainly see areas where he can greatly improve. Protecting his dribble on drives, just sound dribbling in general (e.g. not dribbling off of his foot), not driving into traffic, finishing when he's already at the rim, etc.
 

lovegtm

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Someone in the game thread had an astute observation about Tatum (mostly on the offensive end). He's already a superstar, and you can plainly see areas where he can greatly improve. Protecting his dribble on drives, just sound dribbling in general, not dribbling himself int traffic, finishing when he's already at the rim, etc.
The playmaking jump just during the past few weeks has been ridiculous to watch. And yup, there is a ton of other low-hanging fruit to hit. Anyone betting against him being a top-5 player in the next 2 years is lighting mind money on fire.
 

Koufax

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That was 10 minutes well spent. Thanks for posting it.
 

RedOctober3829

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His game will improve each year because his body will continue to get stronger. That will help him in the post where his game will expand to take him to another level. He’s a top 10-15 player at 22 imagine what he will be when his body fills out.
 
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RorschachsMask

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His game will improve each year because his body will continue to get stronger. That will help him in the post where his game will expand to take him to another level. He’s a top 20-25 player at 22 imagine what he will be when his body fills out.
I think most would argue that he’s a top 10ish player at 22.

His ceiling is scary, reminds me of when Lowe said that his upside is so high, that he didn’t feel comfortable naming his comparisons for Tatum on TV.
 

bigq

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Nice Thinking Basketball video on Bae #2:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9w01cTw4AU
Great video. Thanks for posting it. Interesting that Tatum’s rate statistics improve significantly when Kemba is not on the floor. It makes intuitive sense in that the offense runs more heavily through Tatum when Walker is on the bench. Maybe it suggests that Tatum should be more of an offensive focal point even when Kemba is on the floor.
 

DannyDarwinism

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Nice Thinking Basketball video on Bae #2:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9w01cTw4AU
Thanks, that’s great. I love Ben Taylor’s stuff, just wish he’d put out podcasts more often. I didn’t realize The Athletic had scooped him up, man are they doing a great job of getting talent and putting out thoughtful hoops content. Their Nerder She Wrote with Seth Partnow, Dave DuFour and Mo Dahkil is really good too.

Regarding the All-Defense snub, I think it really is the conventional wisdom criticism of voters overrating on-ball defense. It’s just much easier to see without having to know about specific teams’ schemes, and individual players defensive responsibilities within those schemes, and that’s where Tatum really shines, with his incredible awareness, discipline and timing. His on-ball defense is still solid, and he puts up decent stocks numbers, but he doesn’t pop off the screen like an Avery Bradley used to, locking people down so voters aren’t quick to notice that he absolutely destroys gameplans with his processing and length at the nail. Impact metrics basically have him as a top 5 defensive player, which is just absurd given his age and offensive load.
 

slamminsammya

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Thanks, that’s great. I love Ben Taylor’s stuff, just wish he’d put out podcasts more often. I didn’t realize The Athletic had scooped him up, man are they doing a great job of getting talent and putting out thoughtful hoops content. Their Nerder She Wrote with Seth Partnow, Dave DuFour and Mo Dahkil is really good too.

Regarding the All-Defense snub, I think it really is the conventional wisdom criticism of voters overrating on-ball defense. It’s just much easier to see without having to know about specific teams’ schemes, and individual players defensive responsibilities within those schemes, and that’s where Tatum really shines, with his incredible awareness, discipline and timing. His on-ball defense is still solid, and he puts up decent stocks numbers, but he doesn’t pop off the screen like an Avery Bradley used to, locking people down so voters aren’t quick to notice that he absolutely destroys gameplans with his processing and length at the nail. Impact metrics basically have him as a top 5 defensive player, which is just absurd given his age and offensive load.
Also absurd given he's not a big man, who tend to dominate the defensive metrics. I hadn't realized he's grown an inch or two since being drafted.

I asked this a while ago, but does the Tatum example prove that projecting college player defense is terribly broken? He was projected to be a subpar defender coming in.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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I asked this a while ago, but does the Tatum example prove that projecting college player defense is terribly broken? He was projected to be a subpar defender coming in.
It’s funny to look back at his projected weakness and see how he turned out three years in. Here’s what the Ringer’s 2017 draft guide has as his minuses, how many of these was he able to rise above? With his improved passing recently, basically all of them?
  • Lacks defensive mentality. Loses focus off-ball, dies on screens. He has the ability but doesn’t play with much effort or NBA-level physicality.
  • Lacks defensive versatility. Flat-footed on the perimeter; gets toasted by guards. Thin in the waist, so gets overpowered by bigs.
  • Needs to score to produce. He’s a willing passer but lacks vision off the dribble.
  • Not a natural shooter, with rigid mechanics. Gets to his shot pocket early and heaves the ball. Struggles off the dribble from 3-point range.
  • Lives in midrange. Settles for pull-ups and floaters. If his 3-pointer doesn’t translate, is he a player modern teams can build around?
 

DannyDarwinism

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Also absurd given he's not a big man, who tend to dominate the defensive metrics. I hadn't realized he's grown an inch or two since being drafted.

I asked this a while ago, but does the Tatum example prove that projecting college player defense is terribly broken? He was projected to be a subpar defender coming in.
I think it’s more just that Tatum’s a fucking boss. The guys that were projected to be plus defenders recently have a pretty good hit rate- Isaac, Anunoby, Thybulle, Clarke, Dunne, Dejounte, Lonzo, Dort, Bam, Mikal, Melton.

There are some misses that mostly seem attributable to injuries or being so bad on offense as to render the guy unplayable- Bamba, Zhaire, Jevon, Josh Jackson,Ntilikina. And some incompletes: DeAndre Hunter, and Jaren Jackson Jr., who - credit due to HomeRunBaker for being all over this predraft- has struggled with his overall defensive awareness, even while he’s putting up numbers and exceeding his expectations on the offensive side.

But Tatum and Ben Simmons stand out as the guys who ended up being scheme warping defenders that not a lot of people saw coming. Ben seems like it was mostly a matter of truly terrible effort at LSU, and for Tatum, my guess is it was a bit of underestimating his functional athleticism and anticipation, and his otherworldly ability to soak up coaching and quickly put it to work.
 

Jimbodandy

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That list of Tatum's weaknesses is hilarious, in hindsight. He's a college senior right now, and he's blown through all of them.
He shed the propensity for long 2s and developed the vision, both pretty hard things to do at the NBA level. The other bullet points weren't true already.
 

benhogan

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That list of Tatum's weaknesses is hilarious, in hindsight. He's a college senior right now, and he's blown through all of them.
Anyone that watched ACC basketball scoffed at those characterizations. He started his year off injured but as soon as ACC play began he dominated at Duke. His long-distance stroke, for a 6'8" freshman, was absurdly advanced.

Tatum's greatest gift/strength is his intelligence/work ethic. As soon as you saw those workout videos with Pure Sweat and heard the backstory of him getting private training since 8th grade with Drew Hanlan/Beal the pick was a slam dunk.

Not that these two are the next "Tatums" but the guys I'd love to see Danny get in the draft are Nesmith (similar long-distance stroke) OR Devin Vassel (similar defensively). Both are mocked much higher than 14, Danny would need to engineer some sort of deal.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=am25Vj5Nm6U&t=330s


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbjC85s2YZ4
 

Koufax

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DD seems to be onto something about JT's otherworldly ability to absorb coaching. It seems that, in addition to being tall, athletic and mature, he's just plain smart. Quite the package.
 

lovegtm

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I'd have to check the numbers, but it feels like his fadeaway mid-ranger has improved this year as well. He's always been more balanced on that than on the step-in-2, so excising the latter was a big deal.

I get annoyed when analytics types rip young budding stars for taking tough mid-rangers. Yeah, it's not the shot you want by default, but those shots are really important for stars to have in the bag, and you have to work on them in games to have that comfort level over the years.
 

DJnVa

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Tatum gets praise from Kirk Goldsberry. JT really has made a leap this season.

Whoa

Just look at his recent defensive numbers: According to Second Spectrum tracking data, 97 players have recorded at least 250 half-court matchups on defense this postseason. Tatum ranks first in effective field goal percentage (eFG) allowed at 38.4%.
 

Devizier

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I get annoyed when analytics types rip young budding stars for taking tough mid-rangers. Yeah, it's not the shot you want by default, but those shots are really important for stars to have in the bag, and you have to work on them in games to have that comfort level over the years.
To be fair, Goldsberry says this:
Midrange jumpers are important for big, shot-creating wings. In key moments of close matchups, sometimes they're the best looks you can get. Tatum knows he can't completely excise these looks from his repertoire, but he's helped his game by valuing the best possible alternatives.
 

slamminsammya

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It's the same principle as in Dr strange love - mid range can be effective even if you are never or rarely using it. It can silently generate gravity.
 

Jimbodandy

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It's the same principle as in Dr strange love - mid range can be effective even if you are never or rarely using it. It can silently generate gravity.
If the defenders 100% commit to the 3pt line and the rim only, you have to take it. For elite players, a 15 foot uncontested jumper is a fantastic shot. And as you note defenders will have to adapt to that, opening other things.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Also, Tatum is hitting his threes at a 41.9% rate in the postseason and he is essentially attempting as many as he did during the regular season when he shot 40.3%. Once he gets to where he wants to shoot he is essentially unguardable.
 

lovegtm

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40%+ on self-created 3s at high volume is just stupid. Tatum has a legit path to becoming one of those rare players who is an offensive system by himself.
 

BigSoxFan

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I have a side question.

If you had the ability to pair Tatum up with any other player in the league to maximize his effectiveness, who would it be and why?
 

benhogan

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I'd have to check the numbers, but it feels like his fadeaway mid-ranger has improved this year as well. He's always been more balanced on that than on the step-in-2, so excising the latter was a big deal.

I get annoyed when analytics types rip young budding stars for taking tough mid-rangers. Yeah, it's not the shot you want by default, but those shots are really important for stars to have in the bag, and you have to work on them in games to have that comfort level over the years.
This was discussed quite a bit as we entered this season and when he made the mid-season/Player of the Month leap. I believe the step back/side step 3s & getting to the rim/FTs were emphasized over last Summer w/ Hanlan. JT/Celtics are reaping the rewards of smarter shot selection.


 

nighthob

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I have a side question.

If you had the ability to pair Tatum up with any other player in the league to maximize his effectiveness, who would it be and why?
Could you imagine adding Luka to Tatum & Brown on the wings? You could backfill the 1 spot with a 3&D guy and have an historically good offense.
 

BigSoxFan

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Could you imagine adding Luka to Tatum & Brown on the wings? You could backfill the 1 spot with a 3&D guy and have an historically good offense.
We almost didn’t have to imagine...

But, yeah, Luka would be awesome with Tatum. Giannis/Tatum or Kawhi/Tatum would be defensive porn.
 

nighthob

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I mean, yeah, had they passed on Kyrie they might have been able to trade up to #3 and get Luka (assuming that Atlanta was willing to be flexible on Young). Being able to sign a 3&D type to play the 1 would have given them so many options.
 

DJnVa

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Tatum made 3rd Team All-NBA today.

1st: Giannis, LBJ, Harden, AD, Luka
2nd: Kawhi, Jokic, Lilliard, CP3, Siakam
3rd: Tatum, Butler, Gobert, Simmons, Westbrook
 

OurF'ingCity

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I also really don’t understand voting before the playoffs are over, particularly for the NBA where playoff performance is so critical to how a player is thought of historically.