NBA: 8 trends to watch post-All-Star break

NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The ascent of Jayson Tatum

The Boston Celtics might be becoming Jayson Tatum’s team. The first-time All-Star has been progressively more and more efficient as the season has gone on, without a decline in usage. Tatum has been doing this in two different ways.

One, he has replaced a large chunk of those maddening long-2’s with step-back 3’s. And two, he is attacking the basket much more frequently. He appears less upright on these drives, which helps him beat defenders to the spot and finish through contact. The foul line is now a weapon for Tatum, which is pretty jarring to see considering he was once allergic to free throws. These rim barrages have also helped him steadily improve his playmaking game.

This version of Jayson Tatum is an All-NBA forward. We saw him out-duel Kawhi Leonard in the Celtics’ final game before the break. He has already shored up his weaknesses in ways that I did not foresee happening. Tatum’s defense has been stellar all year long.

We are witnessing him graduate up to the adult table. Instead of being merely a play-finisher, Tatum is taking on that responsibility of running the offense and creating shots for himself and others.

He is still only 21 years old. There will be bumps in the road. But it will be healthy for his long-term outlook for Brad Stevens to let him sink or swim with that increased burden in high-stakes games. Time will tell how Jayson Tatum’s career all unfolds. We could eventually be looking back at this moment as the point when he started to become a superstar.