The 2020-21 NBA season didn’t end well for Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics.
Not only did the Celtics lose to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs after going 36-36 during the regular season, a significant regression from Boston falling just two wins shy of the NBA Finals inside the Orlando bubble. Tatum also missed out on All-NBA honors, a distinction that would have resulted in a sizable bonus on his rookie contract extension.
According to Drew Hanlen, Tatum’s longtime skills trainer, the 23-year-old is using such as motivation as he enters his fifth NBA season with the Celtics.
“His big focus is always No. 1, winning, but two, not being on the All-NBA team was motivating. He’s out to prove that he belongs in that first-tier group of guys,” Hanlen recently told The Athletic’s Jared Weiss. “As he gets better, you’re gonna see more and more defenses and coverages that try to squeeze the ball out of his hand, which is going to naturally give him more opportunities to create for his teammates.”
Weiss’ piece about Tatum becoming more of a distributor definitely is worth a read, but one thing is clear: the Celtics forward is striving to bring his game to another level.
Tatum, a two-time NBA All-Star who earned All-NBA honors for the 2019-20 campaign, already has achieved great success since being drafted No. 2 overall by Boston in 2017. Yet there’s still room for growth. And adopting a new approach — along with a new physique — could allow him to reach his full potential as one of the league’s best all-around players.