Skills coach provides encouraging update on Jayson Tatum


Although Jayson Tatum's basic stats stayed largely the same as his rookie season in 2018-19, many fans were disappointed he didn't take more of a leap in his sophomore year. Even worse, the memory of training with Kobe Bryant in the offseason stung each time Tatum settled for a contested midrange jump shot instead of taking the ball strong to the basket. 

His free throw attempts per game dropped from 3.2 to a paltry 2.9, and he attempted nearly as many midrange shots (276) as three-pointers (311). But this summer, it appears Tatum is trying to break some of those bad habits with skills coach Drew Hanlen. 

"Driving and getting downhill through contact and being able to finish around the rim is our No. 1 focus,” Hanlen told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “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. We just want him to be more efficient, and we think he will be. He’s as locked in as I’ve ever seen him."

With Hanlen, Tatum is going through drills where he isn't allowed to shoot midrange shots. Hanlen believes Tatum "settled too much" last year, but now is "starting to kind of realize" when to pull up for two and when to attack the rim and draw contact. Instead of fading away from contact, Hanlen wants him to embrace contact and power through it.  

"He’s very, very locked in," Hanlen added.

That's music to Celtics fans ears. 

Tatum should have a larger role in the offense this season with the departures of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, and he recently predicted he'd make his first All-Star team this year. To elevate his game, he'll likely have to cut back on long twos while earning more foul shots and increasing his efficiency at the rim. 

Additionally, this isn't the first time Tatum has trained with Hanlen. Last year, Hanlen flew to Boston to help Tatum get out of a shooting slump. Hanlen's other clients include Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal. 

Hanlen also revealed to the Globe that he's been working with forward Semi Ojeleye and Summer League cult hero Tacko Fall. The skills coach said wrist flexibility issues have held back Ojeleye's jumper in the past, and they're working on adding more arc to his shot. With Fall, Hanlen has begun tweaking his free throw shot. Fall shot 43% from the stripe at UCF. Hanlen also plans to pit Fall against his other client, Joel Embiid.

But the biggest news is Tatum working with Hanlen — not Kobe — on the right things. 

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