Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum continues to dominate in win over Lonzo Ball’s Lakers

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 08: David Nwaba
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 08: David Nwaba /

Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum continued his dominant summer league play with a strong effort against the Lakers and 2017 No. 2 Overall Pick Lonzo Ball, leading the team to an 86-81 victory.

Jayson Tatum showcased an arsenal of advanced moves in the Boston Celtics first Las Vegas Summer League Game against the Lakers, totaling 27 points and 11 rebounds while also shooting a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line in a winning effort.

This performance allowed the Celtics to overcome a brilliant effort from Los Angeles Guard Lonzo Ball, who bounced back from a poor Summer League debut to record a 11-point, 11-rebound, and 11-assist triple double.

Tatum’s Effective Offensive Game

The Boston rookie’s advanced mid-range game was highlighted in this victory, as he hit a variety of difficult jumpers with defenders in his face. One of his shots that particularly turned heads was a step-back jumper over Kyle Kuzma with 4:20 left in the 3rd quarter that followed a flashy spin move.

Tatum also displayed his ability to get to the basket and draw contact, a vital skill that he needs in order to be an efficient scorer. In today’s numbers-driven NBA, teams are emphasizing the need to score and draw fouls near the basket instead of settling for long, difficult 2-pointers. So, it was encouraging to see Tatum drive hard to the basket, get to the line often, and make all of his free throws.

Domination on the Glass

While some people doubt whether Tatum’s rebounding ability will carry over into the NBA, it certainly seems that he has the tools to be a solid contributor on the glass. After averaging 9.7 boards per game during the Utah Summer League, he grabbed 11 rebounds in Boston’s Las Vegas Summer League debut.

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Working on his rebounding skills will be crucial to his development over the next few years. Prior to the draft, many scouts and analysts were worried that Tatum may be destined to be a one-dimensional scorer who does not impact the game in other ways. He is not known as a primary playmaker, averaging only 2.1 assists a game at Duke, but he did average a solid 7.3 rebounds per game in his lone collegiate season. With his advanced set of offensive moves, his rebounding potential, and the physical tools to develop into a great defender, Tatum has shown that he has the makings of a star.

Expanding His Range

One area of Tatum’s game that I would like to see him experiment with more during Boston’s last few summer league games is his three point shooting. Tatum has all of the tools to be a great three point shooter: he makes free throws and mid-range jumpers at a high rate and has a smooth shooting stroke.

Related Story: Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum showing reminders of Kobe Bryant

Instead of settling for so many long two-point shots, Tatum could score more by stepping a few feet back and shooting from beyond the arc.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 08: Jayson Tatum
LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 08: Jayson Tatum /

After the Summer League season finishes, Brad Stevens’ modern NBA offense will give him ample opportunity to work on his long distance jumpers during the regular season. The Celtics shot 33.4 three-pointers per game last year, the 3rd-most in the league and even more than the sharpshooting Golden State Warriors.

The team figures to continue this high rate of three point shooting after adding All-Star Gordon Hayward (39.8% from three-point range last year) and stretch forward Marcus Morris (career 35.5% three-point shooter), which is perfect for Tatum’s development.

A year in Stevens’ offense helped Jaylen Brown’s three point shooting immensely, as he shot 34.1% from beyond the arc last season after converting only 29.4% of this three-pointers during his lone collegiate season at Cal.

Other Notable Performances

SMU product Semi Ojeleye was lights-out from deep against the Lakers, scoring 19 points and shooting 5-9 from beyond the arc. If he continues to shoot like this, he could crack a spot in the regular season rotation instead of being stuck with the G League Maine Red Claws.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 08: Semi Ojeleye
LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 08: Semi Ojeleye /

On a negative note, big man Ante Zizic continued his underwhelming Summer League play with 2 points and 0 rebounds in only 10 minutes of action. Fans have been hoping that Zizic can help solve Boston’s rebounding issues next year, but his recent play suggests that he still has lots of work to do and that expectations for him shouldn’t be too high.

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While Boston’s young players still have a long way to go and lots to learn, the future is bright for the team that has followed up a 53-win season with the addition of an All-Star in his prime as well as Tatum and several other promising prospects.