Jayson Tatum to widen his game and his skills coach Drew Hanlen knows how to do it

Jayson Tatum as a rookie in the NBA Summer League. Photo via Bart Young 
In the wake of his latest 2020 season predictions, Celtics' forward Jayson Tatum continues to work hard towards upgrading his game. The Boston Globe released an article written by Adam Himmelsbach detailing Tatum's offseason work-out regime with long-time drills and skills trainer Drew Hanlen.
Last season, many believed Tatum failed to hit the expectations set for him after his outstanding rookie outing. In a lot of his statistics, he did improve, managing to up most of his averages such as points, assists, steals and rebounds (offensive and defensive alike).

However, it was his shooting that took a minor hit. Tatum's field goal percentage dropped from 47.5% to 45% while his three-point dropped from 43.4% to 37.3%. Another statistic that fell came in the form of in his free throw attempts, only making it to the line 2.9 times per game.

These are all things Hanlen plans on fixing, as well as his overall comfort on the court. In Himmlesbach's article, the skills trainer detailed his own breakdown of Tatum's play last year along with his the goals he has set for him this summer.
“I think people overcriticize him. If he would have shot 37 percent his rookie season, everyone would have freaked out, and now he shot 37 and people look at is as a drop-off. But I think there was just some frustration with him not being in the role he thought he would be in after the previous season.”
This point of frustration makes sense when paired with the rumors from early this summer that many Celtics players were frustrated with head coach Brad Stevens' communication and his prioritization of Hayward's role in the system coming off his horrible injury. With the roster having massive changes over the past couple months, Tatum's role should change with it, looking more similar to what expected last year. In response to this, Hanlen went on to say:
“The offense is going to put him in situations and he’s going to have to make the right play. I think last year the biggest thing was he settled too much. When he felt contact he would sidestep, step away, and sort of fade away, which he’s capable of making but also are not high-percentage shots, and they don’t cause fouls. It’s just about being a little bit smarter on the way he attacks.”
Despite the fact that Hanlen was able to pick out Tatum's problems from last season somewhat easily, he doesn't appear to be worried about them at all and has established three primary goals moving forward.

The first is to get Tatum to the free-throw line more. With Tatum's size (6'8" and 208 lbs) combined with this ability to score from anywhere on the floor, it should be relatively easy for him to get to the line. However, things did not really work out that way last season. As mentioned before, Tatum only managed to average 2.9 free throw attempts per game (78th most in the NBA). Hanlen attributes this setback to Tatum's frequency to just settle for a shot rather than being more aggressive and fighting throw contact to get to the basket.

Along with this, Hanlen will help develop the 21-year-old's ability to finish at the rim in order to try and complete his driving ability. All of this will help Tatum's knowledge in knowing what shot is the right shot and not just taking what he thinks the defense is giving him.

The second goal was to take a lot less mid-range jump shots. In connection to him settling, Hanlen pointed out that there were a lot of instances where rather than muscle his way to the basket and get a good, high-percentage shot, Tatum would just pull up for a contested jumper or fade away for a very difficult one. In specifics of their drills, Hanlen detailed
“We’ve been doing a lot where he’s just not allowed to shoot midrange shots. So it forces him to do it, and he’s starting to kind of realize when he settles for the jump shot and when he should get downhill. He’s seen it on film and now we’re forcing him to do it by taking away the midrange, and then it’s just about making the right decision. Sometimes the midrange is the best shot, sometimes the three is the best shot, and sometimes the rim. It’s about putting it all together.”
This leads to the third and final goal, which is improving Tatum's comfort from behind the three-point line and getting him to take more every game. Hanlen felt the number of times Tatum would attempt a three last year in a single game was just too low for someone of his ability, and that is not acceptable in today's NBA.

To get him more comfortable, their drills will focus on hitting three-pointers in high-speed situations in which Tatum had troubled centering himself and getting a good shot off in last year's play. With a younger, more energic roster heading into next season, the speed of the Celtic's offense could become a bit faster. For this reason, working on this could end up being an extremely smart and valuable move by Hanlen. 

Hearing this, Celtics fans should be even more excited about the potential of Tatum's play in the 2020 season. Throughout the landscape of the younger NBA players, Hanlen has a reputation of knowing what he's talking about in terms of player development, especially when it comes to shooting from range.

In college, Hanlen played for the Division 1 Belmont Bruins where he averaged 10.8 points per game and shot 48.2% from the three-point line in his senior season. Where he really hit his stride though was after college when he gained a reputation of being one of the best trainers around with the ability to pick out the weaknesses in someone's game and work on them to a point where they might even be considered strengths.

In terms of offseason work, Hanlen has trained regularly with extremely young and talented NBA players such as Joel Embiid, Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, Mo Bamba and many more. He has also spent limited time working with even bigger NBA superstars such as Kevin Durant and the Celtics' small forward Gordan Hayward.

Hanlen has been working with Tatum for a very long time, reaching back to middle school. He was hesitant at first but committed to working with Jayson at the recommendation of Bradley Beal, who worked with Hanlen already and had grown up with Tatum in St. Louis.

The combination seems to have worked out so far, as Tatum has been an exceptional player despite the fact that many considered his sophomore season to be a slump. Hopefully, their work this summer helps Tatum elevate his game to the All-Star level he plans on playing at.

While Tatum's work with Hanlen is easily the most important for Boston, his training with Celtics players doesn't stop there. This summer he has also worked with role player Semi Ojeleye and 7'7" rookie phenom Tacko Fall.

Hopefully, Hanlen's work with all three players can elevate their individual play as well as their contribution towards making the Boston Celtics that much better next season.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.