Looking at Jayson Tatum's ability to attack the basket

Jayson Tatum’s offensive repertoire is expansive: he’s a very solid three point shooter, he loves scoring in iso situations from the midrange or mid-post, he’s proven to be a capable passer with an above average basketball IQ, and he continues to excel in the crucial moments of close games for the Boston Celtics. What has really surprised me - and what may end up being Tatum’s best offensive skill - is his exceptional ability to get to the rim, absorb contact and finish with creativity.

Let’s look at a few of the ways Tatum can attack the basket and score.

Tatum is a killer in the mid range and is so good at getting his defender off balance to create space for himself. After Tatum jab steps Dario Saric into a washing machine, he has a choice: stop on a dime and rise up for a mid range shot - something he does very well - or drive all the way to the paint. Tatum’s willingness and ability to get all the way to the rim bodes well for his offensive development; defenders are frequently off balance while checking him, unsure if he wants to shoot or drive.

Again, no jump shot here even though Cody Zeller would have been helpless had Tatum decided to stop and pull up after one dribble. Standing at 6’8 with a 7’0 wingspan, Tatum is great at using his length as an advantage in the paint. He can certainly finish through contact and over the top of defenders like he does on Saric and Zeller, but he also uses his wingspan in crafty and effective ways to finish under or around defenders. Take a look at this clip:

Tatum throws the defender off balance, shields the ball after he picks up his dribble, and puts up the layup so quickly with the opposite hand (goes left, finishes with his right) that the defender can’t react in time. Tatum consistently uses his wingspan in effective ways - allowing him to convert difficult layups around the rim.

In fact, the rookie seems to already know exactly how to use his frame and length on offense. In this next clip, instead of using a hesitation or jab step move, we see Tatum blow by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with a massive first step towards the basket.

Notice how off balance MKG is when he closes out on Tatum. But what would you expect? Currently sitting on 51.8%, Tatum has been the best three point shooter in the NBA (among qualified players) this season and Kidd-Gilchrist has no idea if Tatum will rise up and shoot, take a dribble or two into a mid range shot, or drive straight past his face like he does here.

There’s no doubt about it, the Celtics have a star in Jayson Tatum. I hope we get to see his offensive game develop over the next decade exclusively in Boston green.

Image Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Video Credit: NBA/Boston Celtics, Tomasz Kordylewski
All of the above gifs were created from highlights made by @Timi_093.

Follow Grant Engebretsen at @gcengebretsen