Photo: Hardwood Houdini
By: Patrick Whalen
With the NBA season just over 2 months away The Parquet is gonna start a new series called Report Cards where we grade every Celtics player 2018-19 performance and give a prediction for their 2019-20 season. We’ll be going through the entire roster and be releasing one player’s report card every week. To kick off this new series we’re gonna start with the top returning Celtic with Jayson Tatum.
2018-19 Report Card:
In his second NBA season, the 21-year-old was primed for a big second season after a promising rookie campaign that led to an all-rookie team selection. But with the disfunction of the 2018-19 Celtics, the anticipated jump for Jayson Tatum just did not happen. Now his numbers still improved, his scoring average went up from 13.9 to 15.7, hi rebounds per game increased from 5 to 6 per game and his assists went up from 1.7 to 2.1 per game.
But despite his per game stats improving his shooting percentages took a big hit. His overall shooting percentage decreased from 47.5% to 45% and his three-point percentage took the biggest dip dropping from 43.4% to 37.3%. Even his true shooting percentage dropped from 58.6% to 54.7%. Now with his shots per game average increasing a slight dip in shooting percentage is anticipated from a young player like Tatum. But his shots per game average only increased from 10.4 to 13.1 shots per game. A 2.5 increase in shots per game should not lead to a 6% drop off in three-point percentage and a 4% drop in true shooting percentage.
Now, most franchises would anticipate a slight drop off in year two for a rookie because they would be a centerpiece and maybe a number one scoring option on a bad team. But Tatum was drafted into a different situation. He was expected to have continual improvement every year and help a talent Celtics team capture an NBA title. Not many young players are thrust into that role and between the pressure to succeed and the breakdown with team chemistry, Tatum was not put in a scenario to succeed and make that jump to an NBA star that people were anticipating. Plus, on some nights Tatum would look like the star we all are anticipating him to be and on others he’d be nonexistent. So the most important improvement I would like to see from Tatum this season is consistency on a nightly basis over the entire season. No more 2, 3, 4 point games if he wants to be a star in this league he needs to bring it offensively every night.
But despite all of that I’m still giving Tatum a B+ for the 2018-19 season. This is mostly because he still improved his per-game stats and though the consistency scoring wise was not there the effort was there on a nightly basis. And again with all the drama in that locker room, a young star like Tatum was never given the chance to blossom.
Final Grade: B+
But, now that the Celtics are past the Kyrie Irving drama and have a much better locker room situation Tatum is poised for a big 2019-20. Tatum’s trainer has already said that they’ve worked on getting to the rim more often than settling for long two-pointers. He also said that Tatum has become much more comfortable with his step back and off the dribble three-point shot. Jayson has also been building his team chemistry early this offseason as him, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and new teammate Kemba Walker have all been apart of Team USA’s FIBA world cup camp. The chemistry with Kemba was especially apparent as they were both on the blue squad in the blue v white scrimmage last week. The blue team came out on top by a score of 97-78 with Tatum leading all scorers with 17 points on a very efficient 6-8 shooting.
With all the great news coming out of Tatum’s camp I think he will be poised for a big season in 2019-20. Now, do I believe he’ll become a top 20 NBA player this season, no, but I believe a trip to Chicago for the All-Star Game will be in store for the 21-year-old as he will take the next step towards NBA stardom and be the second-leading scorer on the Celtics behind only Kemba Walker.
Predictions for 2019-20:
PPG: 18.8 RPG: 6.3 APG: 2.4 FGA: 14.2 FG%: 47.8% 3P%: 42.6% TS%: 57.7%
NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Reserve Selection
Now, let’s look back on some of Tatum’s best plays from last season.