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The Celtics Working To Get The Black Mamba Poison Out Of Jayson Tatum's Game Is Music To My Fucking Ears

Charlotte Hornets v Boston Celtics

Ever since we got our first look at Kobe and Jayson Tatum working out together last summer I knew deep in my bones there was no way it wouldn’t come back to haunt us. Then we saw how Tatum looked to start the season last year and frankly it was god awful. It was pretty evidence that he was infected with Black Mamba poison which convinced him that settling for contested mindrange long two’s was the way to go. Long story short, it wasn’t. Not even fucking close. In reality it was a main reason why Tatum had some regression last year and didn’t make that Year 2 jump we were all expecting. The numbers tell the story

2017-18 Midrange stats: 2.7 FGA on 43.7% shooting

Things were fine for the most part when it came to Tatum and his midrange game. He had some instances where he settled too much, but he was a rookie. Then Kobe did that stupid fucking Detail video in the playoffs that Tatum admitted he watched a billion times and….

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then we had the famous workout heading into the 2018-19 season.

2018-19 Midrange stats: 3.5 FGA on 36.6% shooting

Suddenly midrange jumpers became the second most shot zone of his season, barely trailing the restricted area (4.0). It wasn’t just his over reliance on the midrange, it was the quality of shot he was taking. Stupid turnaround jumpers, contested 20 footers, it was gross and honestly a real problem. It didn’t get much better in the playoffs either. What we saw was a Tatum that was relying more on isolation (something he sneaky stinks at) while also driving less to the rim instead opting for these terrible midrange shots. His FT rate dropped from 30% to 22% in his second year which is the exact opposite of what you want from your primary offensive option.

Well after the year from hell ended we got some nuggets that this was going to be a problem Tatum immediately addressed. Drew Hanlen talked about this issue back in July

and now the Celtics coaching staff is on board to make sure every last trace of that asshole Kobe Bryant is out of Tatum’s game.

“I made a deal with him the day before training camp that we would not discuss last year at all,” Larranaga told ESPN last week. “This is my first year working with him, and so I just said, ‘We’re just starting from right here, doing what we know is right, playing the right way and working the right way.

“When the 3 is open, he’s got to knock it down,” Larranaga said. “And be willing to take it. He’s an elite shooter. But he’s used to playing with the ball in his hands, he’s used to putting it down [on the floor], so I think the biggest thing to getting fouled for him is people really have a fear of him shooting that 3 on the catch. Then all of his drives are going to be easier, and [he] just naturally will get to the line more.”

Right away on media day we heard Tatum talk about his new approach. More FTs and more threes and much less of the bullshit. In our first look of actual game action, it was clear that wasn’t just lip service

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everything for the most part was either at the rim or behind the arc. The midrange jumpers he did take weren’t forced. There was no sign of Kobe anywhere you looked. Tatum appears to be well on his way to recovery.

The most encouraging part about all this is Tatum has accepted that he fucked up last year and is taking responsibility for it

“Last year was kind of funky in all aspects,” Tatum said. “I understand that. I acknowledge that, and I’m just trying to be better this year.”

For the Celtics to have any sort of success this season, they’re going to need Jayson Tatum to take a real leap. I don’t care about the scoring average, I care about the efficiency and the approach. If he’s able to get to the line more the scoring will take care of itself but what I care most about is his decision making. This team really can’t afford to have him go crazy and have empty isolation possessions that end up with a bad midrange shot. That’s basically a turnover. I truly think that last year was the humble pie Tatum needed to regain his focus and bounce back this upcoming season. I think playing with Team USA and Pop helped, and I think his enhanced role within Brad’s offense is giving him the confidence he needs.

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Time will obviously tell if this is actually for real or just a bunch of bullshit, but I cannot be happier that everyone has addressed the problem and it won’t be long before every last trace of Kobe’s poison is gone from Tatum’s game. When that happens, we’ll be cooking with gas.