Spurs’ Gregg Popovich Sort Of Inspired Jayson Tatum’s Improvement This Year


Before the NBA’s pause in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the basketball world (or at least, the part that didn’t pay close enough attention to the Boston Celtics), was watching Jayson Tatum’s rise as a superstar.

At the very least, he entered the conversation as one.

But with the opportunity to run the offense came the realization he had to adapt his game when veteran ball handlers, including Kyrie Irving, departed from the Celtics.

So he turned to film of two of the league’s best two-way players.

“I knew that I would have a much larger role this season, handling the ball in pick-and-roll much more often,” Tatum told The Athletic in a great deep-dive of the third-year player’s evolution by Jared Weiss. “So I watched a lot of clips of Kawhi (Leonard), Paul George in pick-and-roll situations. Just developing that patience and that takes time.”

According to Tatum, while being coached by Gregg Popovich for Team USA last summer, the San Antonio Spurs coach suggested that with their similar body types and skill sets, the Celtic could be like Leonard or George one day.

That’s when Tatum dove into film and drills to improve his game, and it only took until the All-Star break for him to really put it together.

Imagine where he’d be now had the league not shut down?

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Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images

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