Whether it has been the fault of the roster construction, the coaching staff, the new ball being used this season by the NBA, the impact of getting COVID-19, a combination of these issues, or something else entirely, one thing is clear regarding All-Star Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum.
The St. Louis native is not playing like the top-15 player he grew to become last season and is now stuck in the worst shooting slump of his career with 22 straight misses from beyond the arc. Asked by the press if his heavy load over the last few pandemic-inflected seasons might be playing a role in his worse-than-normal play, Tatum downplayed the impact of the compacted seasons and high mileage.
“I don’t think so,” replied the Duke product.
“I’m no different than any other guys that went to the (NBA) Finals last year,” he added.
“I guess it is a lot, but it only seems like that. If you think about it in that way, yes. I get paid to play basketball. And it’s been my dream since I was three years old, so I’m going to play as often as I can, for as long as I can.”
Tatum also noted that he hadn’t reached out to anyone regarding finding a way to shake off the historic slump.
“I haven’t spoken to other guys,” he suggested. (I’m) just too focused on myself and the team.”
“But I know for myself and I guess the other guys who aren’t shooting as well, it’s not going to change how people guard us. They know what myself is capable of, and it’s just a matter of getting out of it. And (then) we’ll be able to talk about something else.”
Tatum is not wrong that it will take a much longer slump to change how opposing players guard him and others around the league also going through shooting woes this season.
But playoff seeding and assessments of team success are not judged by what players are capable of, and rather base assessments off of what actually happens on the court.
If the St. Louis native and his Celtics want to look back at this season as a successful one in at least some regards, both he and the team need to find ways to grow their game and lean on the things that do work harder.
And now, not at some point in the future.
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