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Jayson Tatum admits he was making the game way too difficult last season

Jayson Tatum, Celtics

“Never meet your heroes” is a phrase often used in today’s NBA. Luckily for Jayson Tatum, while he got to meet stars like LeBron James at the ripe age of 15 years old, he never got to play against his idol Kobe Bryant, who had retired before he debuted with the Boston Celtics in 2017.

Unfortunately for him though, he did get to work out with him during his first full offseason as an NBA player, often working on the moves and shots he had worked on growing up, trying to resemble his idols. While Bryant praised his attention for detail, that very keen eye did a disservice to his game, which notably took a step back from the efficient scorer he was in his rookie season.

“[I was] making the game tougher than I probably should have,” Tatum said last week, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Tatum not only took the patented Kobe fadeaways, the shots over the top of defenders, the spins and the floaters, but he did so without even being defended as his idol once was during his heyday.

“Last year was kind of funky in all aspects,” he admitted. “I understand that. I acknowledge that, and I’m just trying to be better this year.”

Tatum was turning down open 3-pointers for contested twos, and he failed to make use of his athleticism for drives to the basket, instead opting for shots with a much higher degree of difficulty. Despite his struggles, Tatum is trying not to look back and look ahead instead, focusing on becoming more effective than he proved to be in 2018-19.

“Focus on getting to the basket much more,” the Celtics star said. “Shoot more 3s, and layups, and free throws.”

The 21-year-old shot a studly 47.5% from the field and a rookie-best 43.4% from deep in his first year in the league. If he can get anywhere close to those levels of efficiency again, it will be a major win for coach Brad Stevens and the rest of his team.