Jayson tatum was playing the best basketball of his life in the last two months of the season before the shutdown. The young Boston Celtics star was named to the All-Star Team, and it unlocked a level of confidence that made him grow from “budding star” to one of the game’s best players during that time.
Much of Boston’s success in the Orlando bubble depends on Tatum’s ability to stay warm and be the best player in a playoff series. The Celtics already have a starting lineup that has three current and former All-Stars and one player, Jaylen Brown, who has made a strong case for being one as well. If Tatum can shine and be the best player in this group, then Boston’s championship odds improve dramatically.
As good as Tatum has been, he certainly doesn’t seem to be satisfied.
“I worked on my body, just trying to maintain my weight, trying to maintain my strength, to keep my muscle mass and body fat at the same level,” Tatum said when asked on Saturday about his. absence from the match. “I did a good job on it. And I guess I’m just trying to polish everything. I can improve myself in everything. So I guess the answer is just to try and take it to the next level, honestly.
Tatum did little more than maintain his body. A recent practice video posted by the Celtics showed a shirtless Tatum who appeared to have put to good use the weights the Celtics provided their players during quarantine. When asked if he had added muscle in the past few months, he sheepishly replied, “Yes, I did. But this is not common knowledge. I can’t tell my secrets to everyone.
Adding muscle was a guideline established by Danny Ainge early in Tatum’s career. Duke’s skinny wing grows into its 6-foot-9 frame and develops its game to match. After difficulties at the start of the season resulting from certain experiments and a certain pressure that he imposed on himself, Tatum has become a real star. He averaged 29.9 points per game after All-Star Break and saw noticeable increases in most of his offensive stats, while playing fairly good defense. This is something that has already garnered the greatest praise from teammate Marcus Smart.
“He’s 6′9 ″ with a 7-foot wingspan and he’s actually just sitting down and guarding the guys, let alone going down on the offensive side and doing what he’s doing. Smart said last week. “I just think he’s on the right path to being if not the best player, one of the best players to ever do this in this game.”
The Celtics are hoping that their trust in each other will end up in court at Walt Disney World. That, and Tatum’s high game, makes them feel good about having a deep playoff run.
“We have a realistic chance. We have the talent, the experience, the depth and we compete with the best of them, ”Tatum said. “We give up, we play defense and our mindset is never to give up. We’ve got a lot of guys who’ve been through a lot with each other, been through a lot of battles in the last couple of years, so we hold each other accountable, we trust and we are going to fight until there is nothing left on the clock. “