Jayson Tatum will defend his title and represent the Boston Celtics for the second year in a row at the skills challenge during All-Star weekend.
Jayson Tatum won the skills competition last year by hitting a half-court shot to beat one of the best scorers in the NBA, Trae Young. That formula isn’t going to cut it in this year’s competition. Now a year later, Tatum has made the All-Star team for the first time in his career, and has also accepted the invitation to defend his title in the skills challenge during All-Star weekend this year.
The third-year pro will be competing to join the great company of Dwayne Wade and Damien Lillard, in becoming the third player to ever win the skills challenge in back-to-back years. The last player to represent the Boston Celtics in the challenge, in back-to-back years, was Isaiah Thomas.
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Tatum now in his third season with the Boston Celtics has made obvious progressions in his development from last year to this year. His 21.7 points per game this season is good for being in the top-twenty in the NBA. Tatum has improved his off-dribble shooting, is taking better shots, and is shooting from the spots where he knows he’s comfortable in.
The third-year pro has some flashy moves for a player of his stature. It’s not as easy to handle the ball or be as elusive when your 6-foot-8 and have skilled handling. But what Tatum is able to do so well and is a huge improvement from last year is he uses his body in addition to his moves.
It’s noticeable how Tatum uses his broad shoulders to weave his way through the paint and uses his long arms to get closer to the basket. He’s also worked on his dribbling from an ISO standpoint and knows when and where he should make his move to get up a shot.
The true testament to Jayson Tatum being in the skills challenge is his awareness. You can see his court vision is all over the place, seeing as he is averaging a career high 2.9 assists per game this season. But in consideration to this skills competition and the drills, you need to be completely aware of everything on the court.
It’s worth mentioning that Jayson Tatum isn’t the only former champion in the competition who will be giving it a second go around. Over the years, Derek Rose (2009), Patrick Beverly (2015), and Spencer Dinwiddie (2018) have all won the skills competition.