In the midst of an MVP caliber season, and as one of the best two-way scorers in the NBA, Jayson Tatum has been uncharacteristically inconsistent from beyond the arc so far.
Although his shooting percentage is right around league average at 35.5%, this is still quite low for a player who has been one of the best three point shooters in the league for years. While the percentage isn't terrible, there may be other factors affecting the Boston superstar's jumpshot.
The Pull Up Problem
Upon taking a closer look at Tatum's advanced shooting splits via NBA.com, the glaring concern becomes much clearer. Even though his catch and shoot percentage is great at 41.1% on 4.3 attempts per game, Tatum's pull up three has fallen off a cliff.
At a measly 29.4% on 4.9 attempts a game, Tatum is not only shooting drastically lower on pull up jumpers, but he is taking pull ups on a higher volume than he is off the catch.
Why is there such a large gap between Tatum's pull up and catch and shoot percentages? There is one obvious answer: openness.
On shots that Tatum is covered within 2-6 feet, Tatum is shooting around 34% from three. When Tatum is wide open, which is categorized as 6+ feet of space, he is hitting at a 44% clip, albeit on a much lower volume. This seems pretty significant, but what are we to do with this information?
It is obvious that covering Tatum is going to be a focal point defensively for opposing teams, so it makes sense that most of his three point attempts are contested. Is there a way to get Tatum more open looks? While it may seem counterintuitive, there is a solution. Get to the rim.
Look, we all know that Jayson Tatum is a phenomenal shooter, regardless of his percentages. But you know what? The rest of the league knows that too.
There have been far too many times this season where Jayson has gotten frustrated with his shot and started forcing contested threes. Instead of trying to shoot himself into a rhythm, Tatum needs to attack the basket more.
Even though Tatum does go to the rim pretty frequently, he needs to start doing it more. Not only will he be able to get into his shooting rhythm at the free throw line, but defenders are going to have to respect the drive while guarding him on the perimeter, and if they sag off just a little bit, thats all the more room for Tatum to take his pull up shots.
A Possible Solution
In short, Tatum has to approach the beginning of games differently. Rather than trying to take threes early, Tatum has to relentlessly attack the basket, even more than he is currently doing. By getting to the line and making defenders second guess his motives, Tatum will have much more room to operate on the wing or at the top of the key.
When Jayson Tatum has a balance in his offensive attack, combining his remarkable frame and athletic finishing ability while also optimizing his lethal shotmaking, there really isn't anything opposing teams can do. Heres hoping that these last few weeks in the regular season allow Tatum to find his shot consistently for the playoff run.