It's Summer time, the Celtics are busy combing the Free Agent market and conjuring up trades (This Celtics fan is not looking for a trade but Danny is not one to leave any stone unturned).
The Summer League commences tonight, where we will get our first glimpse of this year’s 27th draft pick, Robert Williams as well as a few others, notably Semi Ojeleye and The Dancing Bear, Guerschon Yabusele, who are looking to improve their skills and their games.
While we watch the youngsters hone their skills and improve on their weaknesses, I wanted to talk about a youngster who grew leaps and bounds in his rookie year. Yes, Jayson Tatum. He did some amazing things last year such as ranking eighth in shooting percentage from beyond the arc (.434) and seventh in Defensive Win Shares (4.0) in the league, not among rookies, but among the league.
He showed us his maturity throughout the playoffs, where his points per game rose to 18.5, his free-throw percentage increased as well as his assists and steals. He put an exclamation on his season with an emphatic dunk over LeBron James in the fourth quarter of game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, putting the Celtics within two.
The kid is for real. However, with all of his sensational plays, impressive defense and composure, Tatum's ceiling is high but there a number of things I would like to see him improve on.
Things to Improve On
It has been shown on social media Tatum working on his three's. However, there are other areas of his game that could use work.
Finishing. It is clear Tatum has a quick first step, just ask J.R. Smith. Although, there were a number of instances where Tatum couldn't finish the brilliant move, often hitting the backboard too hard. He needs to work on his touch finishing to the rim.
Drawing Contact. He has drawn a lot of comparison to Paul Pierce. One thing Pierce did well was draw contact for the foul, while still getting his shot off with the step back. Tatum has shown his moves to get to the bucket and creating space for his shot. However, I felt too often he didn't draw the contact, which he could have easily done, getting him to the line. I look for his own-patented step back to emerge this season.
Strength. Tatum, by all accounts has been in the gym creating muscle. I would love to see him bulk up a little. This will serve him and the Celtics well, allowing him to increase his versatility to defend the 4.
Free Throws. Maybe I am nitpicking, as he did shoot 82.6% for the season and 84.5% in the playoffs but he has a beautiful stroke and I would like to see him closer to 88% next year. He is going to be a go-to guy in the fourth along with Kyrie Irving next year and getting to the charity stripe should be commonplace.
Jayson Tatum undoubtedly exceeded everyone's expectations last year. If he improves in the four above items, he will become an elite player even sooner than even the Celtics will have anticipated.