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Saturday, June 8, 2024

Is Jayson Tatum being “carried” to an NBA title?

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Key Highlights:

  • The individuals who suppose Tatum is getting “carried” are specializing in the improper components of the field rating.
  • Tatum’s measurement and power are an enormous cause why the Celtics’ defensive scheme in opposition to the Mavericks is working.
  • Tatum could also be going by a taking pictures hunch, however he has proven some critical progress as a decision-maker, which was a main weak point of his for a very long time.

After my first viewing of the Boston Celtics’ convincing Sport 1 NBA Finals victory over the Dallas Mavericks, I scrolled by my Twitter (I refuse to name it “X”), figuring I might discover a smorgasbord of tweets salivating over the Celtics splendor. Nonetheless, I used to be as an alternative met by tweets like this:

At a look, Jayson Tatum’s stat line of 16 factors on 6-for-16 taking pictures from the ground in a blowout win leaves lots to be desired, significantly when he’s purported to be the workforce’s head honcho. Nonetheless, anybody who has learn my work is aware of that I imagine field scores don’t paint the complete image.

Was that the case right here? Or did Tatum actually get “carried?” I spent my second watch of Sport 1 making an attempt to reply this query. Let’s see what I discovered.

What The Field Rating Doesn’t Inform You

I hate to be that man, however conventional field scores don’t actually inform you of a lot (though, as we’ll see in a second, it does give some good hints). Yeah, they let you know what number of factors, rebounds, and assists a participant accumulates in a given sport. However do they let you know how a lot Tatum’s defensive versatility unlocks Boston’s scheme?

One of many Mavericks’ most deadly factors of assault is their pick-and-roll sport with Luka Doncic and the Lob Goblins (Daniel Gafford and Dereck Full of life II). Nonetheless, the Celtics have discovered a method to neutralize this motion by placing Tatum on the middle and Jaylen Brown on Doncic. This allows the Celtics to change the ballscreen and kill the risk of the roll.

This technique is potential largely as a result of Tatum is massive and powerful sufficient to protect Gafford/Full of life and Doncic (when switched on to him). Often, when a workforce tries this form of technique on the Mavericks, they counter it by having Gafford and Full of life eat on the offensive glass. However Tatum is such a fantastic defensive rebounder (94th percentile in defensive rebounding amongst forwards, per Cleansing the Glass) that this process isn’t really easy for the tandem.

This is evidenced by the truth that the offensive rebounding battle was dead-even (10 a bit) between the Celtics and the Mavericks (satirically sufficient, you’ll find that on the field rating). Tatum completed the sport with 9 defensive rebounds and 11 whole rebounds (extra stuff you’ll find on the field rating).

Talking of measurement and rebounding, Tatum’s large body is inflicting issues for Dallas on the opposite finish of the court docket. Within the clip under, Tatum will get switched on the a lot smaller Kyrie Irving within the submit. Sadly, the ball by no means finds its method to his palms. However that’s okay as a result of he leverages his measurement benefit into an offensive rebounding alternative and one other scoring alternative for his workforce.

Pushing The Proper Buttons

Together with being the keystone to a defensive scheme that has shut the tap off on the Mavericks’ favourite play, Tatum was additionally tasked with being the workforce’s lead ball handler.

Since Tatum and Brown got the mantle of the Celtics’ dynasty, the workforce has been vulnerable to collapses due to offensive stagnation brought on by a scarcity of elite on-ball creation. Historical past appeared to be repeating itself within the third quarter when the Mavericks reduce the lead down from 29 to eight. A few of this needed to do with sizzling taking pictures from Doncic and chilly taking pictures from the Celtics, however a few of it was additionally as a result of Tatum and Brown fell again into some outdated habits, like this:

Nonetheless, as an alternative of compounding his errors, Tatum gathered his composure. After a timeout with 4.5 minutes left within the third, Tatum returned wanting to showcase his progress on the nationwide stage. As a substitute of driving into packed paints and forcing a troublesome shot or committing a turnover, Tatum was calculated – surveying the ground and taking what the protection was giving him.

Tatum’s capacity to steer the ship within the face of adversity stored Boston’s offense on observe and away from one other embarrassment. Regardless of having their lead reduce to eight, Boston took a 20 level lead heading into the ultimate body. Tatum ended the evening tied for the game-high in assists (5).

What About His Scoring?

Okay, so Tatum is rebounding, taking part in protection, and distributing. That’s nice however sounds extra like what you’d see from a task participant than a primary choice on a championship workforce. That’s what Tatum’s critics are complaining about. They know Tatum is impactful. They simply suppose he’s not a nice primary choice. Proper?

Not essentially. Earlier this postseason, we mentioned how the small pattern sizes we see within the playoffs can produce bizarre/unsustainable taking pictures numbers. In that particular occasion, we had been referring to Paolo Banchero taking pictures above his standard averages. Nonetheless, small pattern sizes may also trigger the other outcome.

This postseason, Tatum is averaging related factors per sport (25.3) to his teammate Brown (24.8) on decrease effectivity (56% true taking pictures in comparison with Brown’s 61.2%). Many individuals take a look at these numbers as a demerit on Tatum’s talents as a scorer.

However these individuals aren’t factoring in that Tatum is taking pictures an efficient area objective charge of simply 40.5% on his pull-ups this postseason (per This issues as a result of, in 4 of the final 5 common seasons, Tatum has shot an eFG% of 45.4% or greater (together with this season when he was at 47.5%), which means that these playoffs have been uncharacteristic of his regular taking pictures talents. Pull up taking pictures is an enormous a part of Tatum’s scoring bag, so when he’s going by a chilly stretch on these varieties of pictures, it has a large impact on his scoring.

Tatum 2023-24 Pull Up Capturing Common Season vs. Playoffs*

A part of Season Pull Up Efficient Discipline Aim % Pull Up Discipline Aim Makes an attempt
Common Season 47.5% 8.7
Playoffs 40.5% 9.1

*Information Supplied by

The Backside Line

One different factor the field rating provides you (at the least since 1996-97) is a participant’s plus-minus. In Sport 1, Tatum had the second-highest plus-minus (exterior of Jrue Vacation) of any participant who logged minutes with a +19. This is symbolic of all of the completely different ways in which Tatum can go away his imprint on a basketball sport (rebounding, protection, decision-making, spacing, and many others.).

Sure, Tatum goes by a taking pictures hunch. However don’t neglect that in Sport 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant (Tatum’s idol) went 6-for-24 from the ground en path to his fifth NBA title. Nobody mentioned he obtained “carried” to the championship that 12 months. And in the event that they did, they had been improper for it.

Are you aware why? It’s as a result of the all-time greats (like Bryant) discover other ways to win, even when their shot is failing them. And in Sport 1 in opposition to the Mavericks, Tatum confirmed us that he’s able to be mentioned in these kinds of conversations.

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