Now leading the league in three-point shooting, Jayson Tatum is Brad Stevens' tabula rasa

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Now leading the league in three-point shooting, Jayson Tatum is Brad Stevens' tabula rasa

Post by bobheckler on Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:13 pm

http://celticswire.usatoday.com/2017/12/05/now-leading-the-league-in-three-point-shooting-jayson-tatum-is-brad-stevens-tabula-rasa/









Now leading the league in three-point shooting, Jayson Tatum is Brad Stevens' tabula rasa














By: Jared Weiss | 12 hours ago


 
It should already be unfathomable for a rookie to be leading the NBA in three-point shooting. Considering the three-point shot was a perceived weakness entering the league, the concept would be abstract at levels even Jackson Pollack would consider a bit gauche.


Yet there Jayson Tatum sits, on top of the leaderboard at 51.3% from deep. His teammate Al Horford is not too far behind at 46.6%.


Tatum isn’t shooting at a high volume yet. He’s not even in the top 100 in attempts, where four of his teammates reside (Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart). But just like Horford, when he takes them, he makes them count.


The irony is that Horford didn’t really see this coming, at first.



“Honestly, the thing that I saw about him was just his midrange. We would play pickup games in September and he was just abusing people in the midrange. Just post the ball, shake and raise, and do all that. And I think Coach was kind of like, ‘No. We want you to get out there and shoot the 3s. And save those for end-of-the-clock type shots.”


This is where Tatum established that reputation for being an instantaneous learner that coach Stevens, Horford and others raved about during camp. Those outside the team waited to see what they were talking about and it was apparent almost immediately. But his comfort zone has just continued to expand and expand with each game.


“I think Jayson has quickly understood finding his shots on the court and taken really good shots,” Horford said. ”If he doesn’t have the shot, he’s putting it down, he’s creating, he’s attacking the rim. So it’s impressive how quickly he’s figured it out. Because it’s not easy. But I just think he’s doing a good job of really feeling the game out and shooting the ball with confidence.”


But Stevens knew what he was looking for from the beginning. It all started in Los Angeles, where Tatum came in for a workout and changed the complexity of the draft. The Celtics saw something in him that day that made them willing to take him instead of Markelle Fultz. It was his unwavering determination and tranquil mind. It was a tabula rasa on which the Celtics could imprint the prototypical modern player.


“The thing about him is, when he came in for his workout – first of all, guys that can score, the ball finds the net; it just happens, right? And then, but when he came in for his workout, he made a lot of shots. And it looked effortless, and that’s usually a pretty good sign.  You know, it wasn’t like it was just – it didn’t look like it was just one of those days where he was hitting everything. He would miss two in a row and it wouldn’t dissuade him from hitting the next one.


“He had no thought about making the next five; he didn’t get – he just kind of kept shooting it. And, like I said, for a guy with his frame, he shoots it effortless. I mean, he’s going to be able to shoot it deeper, right? And he’s going to be able to make it off running, once he gets a little bit stronger, more used to it, and everything else. He’s going to be a heck of a shooter.”


Even those who have been watching Tatum since before he popped on the Celtics radar saw this coming. For him it was about opportunity, not capability. The latter was limitless. The former was limited by time and responsibility.


“I’ve seen Jayson play since he was a sophomore in high school,” former Dukie and Celtics teammate Kyrie Irving said. “I’ve been a fan of Jayson’s since then. I think you worry about the transition from high school to college, and college to the NBA, but I think he’s doing his due diligence in terms of putting the work in every day, doing what he needs to do and being a professional and learning how to consistently be that and now it’s paying dividends.”


Tatum has traded in text books for playbooks. He naps and shoots. Naps and shoots. He misses college, but says he doesn’t like going to class. “I’m good where I’m at.” Now where he’s at is a place where every moment is dedicated to improving his game. No need to waste time studying renaissance art history when you can watch tape on attacking weak-side close outs when Tony Snell tags high off a blitzed side pick-and-roll.


“When you get an amount of reps up and you don’t have to go to class every day and you don’t have to dedicate yourself to—this becomes a job. And now you can get as many reps up as you want and I think you’re just seeing that it’s translating into the game.
Irving was asked if he was surprised that Tatum is continuing to light it up after his draft scouting report listed three-point shooting under “meh.”


“That [expletive] don’t matter, man.”


Explain, sir.


“Jayson played the three-slash-four at Duke, so he was picking and popping,” Irving said. “I don’t think Jayson has really picked and popped in terms of what coach was utilizing us at Duke. Now, he gets to come in and play his natural role and be in position where he can not only be a threat from the 3-point line, but also a threat going to the rim. He’s seeing the opportunities of us having high-level players. Not saying that at college you’re not high level, but it’s just the difference between college and pros. The ability to swing the basketball between players and the offense he is in now is predicated on movement. He’s getting open shots and he’s a decision maker now. He’s got to shoot it, pass it or drive it.”


This was something Tatum knew was a reputational issue and something he wanted to prove was a myth. Tatum said of that workout in LA in front of Stevens and the Celtics brass that he has been working on his shot day in, day out. He wanted to get drafted as high as possible and prove to teams he was scratching the surface. Apparently, the Celtics bought it hook, line and sinker.


“That was kind of one of the knocks on my game, that I couldn’t shoot the trey real well,” Tatum said. “So I worked on that in the pre-draft process, and I continue to work on it. And I’m getting a lot of open shots, especially playing with these guys. The focus is on Kyrie, and guys help. They make the extra pass, and I knock them down.”


Now he’s learned the key to being a great shooter. It’s not the mechanics – which he says he hasn’t changed – it’s not the reps. It’s the belief. That unwavering commitment that balls clanking off the rim won’t dissuade him from taking the next one.


“Every time I shoot I think it’s going in – I get upset when it don’t.”


He started off 4-for-4 Monday, before missing a deep heave at the buzzer.


“I thought it was going in. When it left my hand, but then I was like nah, it’s not going in.”


It didn’t go in and it threatened his new spot on top of the NBA leaderboard. But that isn’t going to dissuade him from shooting the next one anytime soon.


Why would he ever turn down the right shot, when he thinks it’s going in?



bob
MY NOTE:  "Tabula Rasa" is Latin and roughly translates to "clean slate".  If there is a coach in the NBA that a "clean slate" would want to be written upon by it would be Brad Stevens.  


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