Either way, the secret’s out. Tatum’s a star.
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This much we know to be true, especially following Jayson’s extraordinary 2020-21 campaign. He averaged 26.4 points per game while compiling illustrious milestones that included a 60-point masterpiece performance in a come-from-behind overtime win over the San Antonio Spurs during the regular season and reaching a playoff-best 50 points in Game 3 of the Celtics’ best-of-7 series win over superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets.
Tatum, no question, put the league on notice and did it with excellent timing, in light of what’s next for the Celtics’ two-time All-Star. Now, he shifts his focus to the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Gregg Popovich Says Jayson Tatum ‘Knows He Can Dominate People’
Team USA, and Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich, who, from afar, has taken notice of Tatum’s ascension, is, too, admittingly seeing the significant changes the Celtics star made to his game.
“During that camp and from that time to now, under (Celtics coach Brad Stevens’) tutelage, he’s become more of a two-way player,” Popovich said, via The Athletic’s Jay King. “He’s way more confident. He’s developed more skills, he’s on top of that more aggressive and knows that he can dominate people. So he’s much different coming into that situation than before.”
These modifications bode well for Tatum and Team USA as Tatum’s entering the tournament as one of the team’s elite scorers alongside teammates Kevin Durant and longtime friend Washington Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who’s another player that Popovich believes will be a matchup nightmare for opposing countries.
“He’s hard to keep up with,” Popovich said of Beal, via The Athletic. “Whether he’s coming off of back picks or whether he’s running a pick and roll or he’s coming off a single-double sort of situation, his balance and his movement both are very impressive. He stops on a dime, he can pull up and shoot the shot. He can shoot the 3 or he can back cut and leave you in the dust. His movement really informs his shooting if you think about the space that he creates because of his stop-start, stop-start and ability to catch, go up and knock down the shot. So that shooting ability along with his excellent footwork I think is the most impressive thing about him.”
Will Summer 2021 Transform Celtics’ Jayson Tatum?
As for Tatum, who says spending time with Popovich in 2019 instilled the utmost confidence, this could be the summer where he reaches a new plateau — which for the Celtics, could be the difference between a disappointing first-round exit and a deep playoff run.
“Just how he was coaching me and what he expected of me, and the confidence that he had and knowing all the great players that he’s had around,” Tatum said, per The Athletic. “So after just leaving that camp and knowing that one of the best coaches ever thinks highly of me, I kind of came into my third season just feeling really confident about that, regardless of my age that I was one of the best players, and I just had to go out there and prove it on a nightly basis.”