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Jayson Tatum Is Currently In The Process Of Curing His Kobe-itis

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We all remember when this picture first hit the internet last summer. It smelled like a disaster from the jump and once we got to the regular season our biggest fears were confirmed. Our impressionable teenager had let the venom of the Black Mamba ruin his game. What we saw in Year 2 was drastically different from the Tatum we saw in Year 1 and it looked a whole lot like Kobe Bryant. It didn’t matter if you wanted to use the eye test or actually look up the on court production, things were gross. Overly relying on contested midrange long twos, an area that Tatum shot just 36% on. So much isolation that ended up being the worst in the entire NBA. If you want to look for reasons why Tatum maybe didn’t make the leap we all hoped for after his rookie year, those are the two main areas in my opinion and a direct result of letting Kobe be too much of an influence.

So why should you be excited for a Year 3 jump? Well Adam Himmelsbach from the Globe caught up with Drew Hanlen, Tatum’s longtime trainer and it sure sounds like they have realized the issue and are currently in the process of removing all Kobe influence from Tatum’s game

So this summer Tatum and Hanlen have been working to do that. Despite the mild dip in 3-point shooting, Hanlen is not tinkering with Tatum’s form. Instead, the two are focused on a few primary goals. They want him to get to the free throw line more, they want him to take fewer midrange shots, and they want him to take more 3-pointers, even in frenetic settings.

“The offense is going to put him in situations and he’s going to have to make the right play,” Hanlen said. “I think last year the biggest thing was he settled too much. When he felt contact he would sidestep, step away, and sort of fade away, which he’s capable of making but also are not high-percentage shots, and they don’t cause fouls. It’s just about being a little bit smarter on the way he attacks.”

Music to my ears. We all saw that shit happen time and time again last season and it almost never worked, so if we’re to believe they are eliminating that negative from Tatum’s offensive arsenal, well you can assume his efficiency is going to get back to where it was as a rookie.

“Driving and getting downhill through contact and being able to finish around the rim is our No. 1 focus,” Hanlen said. “And then consistency when he’s shooting off the dribble or off a full-speed move from the 3-point line. Those are our two things, just getting to the rim and drawing fouls, and finishing when you do get to the rim, and then consistency with threes.

Ok now I’m starting to sweat. The Celtics were comically bad at getting to the line last season. I’m pretty sure only the Orlando Magic were worse which isn’t great. If there’s one part of Tatum’s game that will help him get to that next level, it’s adding 6-8 points a night from the line. His FT rate dropped from 30% to 22% last year (stupid midrange), and as long as he gets over his issue of crying every time he doesn’t get a foul call any sort of progress here is going to do wonders. This is especially true as he evolves into his role as a #1 option type offensive player. To do that, you have to be able to get to the line consistently. Look around the league at any high level scorers, and they live at the line.

Time will tell is any of this offseason work with Hanlen will translate, but I fully support any and every effort by Tatum to eliminate all traces of Kobe Bryant from his offensive game. He let his idol get in his head which is to be expected, but now it’s time to get back to the basics.

P.S.

Oh, there was also this little nugget in the story about another Hanlen client and Celtics legend Tacko Fall

The 7-foot-7-inch Fall, meanwhile, has been working with Hanlen mostly on hook shots, balance, screen-setting, and free throws. Fall made just 43.2 percent of his free throws at Central Florida. Hanlen said they are in “phase one” of his free throw adjustment, which includes briefly pausing before releasing the ball.

“I’ll throw him up against Joel a little bit and he’ll get to work out some with Joel,” Hanlen said, “which will be a really good experience for him.”

#PrayForTackoLite