Celtics Insider: The Jays would level up from mid-range J mastery

Jaylen Brown #7 and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Jaylen Brown #7 and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Are you worried about the Boston Celtics slump?

Don’t panic just yet. In the long run, it should be good for the team. It will ultimately make the Celtics better, if they learn from it.

One thing Boston needs to figure out is how to win in multiple ways. It’s easy when their shots are falling. But when it’s not, the Celtics need to learn other ways to get by when games don’t go as expected.

That could be taking the defense to another level to create transition points. Or they could push the pace even higher and run the opponents off the court. They’re young and deep enough to do that most nights.

Or they can change their offensive approach. The Celtics will go as far as their leaders, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, take them. And when their 3-point shooting is failing them, they need to exploit the whole court when they can’t find their range.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum should shoot more mid-range shots for the Boston Celtics.

We know the saying, “live by the 3, die by the 3.” To bring the Boston Celtics offense back to life, Tatum and Brown need to get downhill. Both are elite at getting to the rim. Through January fifth, Tatum shot 65.3 and Brown 69.4, respectively, when within five feet of the rim.

That puts them in the company of Los Angeles Clippers Kawhi Leonard (66.7) and Paul George (63.8) and the Chicago Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan (66.3). Where Tatum and Brown fall behind is in the other ranges inside the 3-point line.

Between 5-9 feet, Tatum and Brown fall behind the veterans with 17 combined all-star selections: Leonard – 59.5, DeRozan – 52.2, and George – 50.0. This a range both Tatum (45.0) and Brown (39.8) need to get better at. If they connected on half of their shots in this range, it would be worth about an additional eight points for Tatum and 17 points for Brown.

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As we get a little further, we see a significant difference between Tatum and Brown. While Tatum falls off some between 10-14 feet (41.0) and 15-19 feet (42.6), Brown improved at those ranges (56.9 at 10-14 feet, 48.0 at 15-19 feet). Tatum has to get better, while Brown needs to shoot between more mid-range shots.

The Jays are leaving points on the floor. This season Brown and Tatum are on pace for career highs in 3-point shot attempts, even though they’re shooting career lows from beyond the arc. While analytics prefer 3-pointers, a player shooting 50 percent on 100 2-pointers (100 points) is about equal to someone making a third of their attempts from beyond the arc (99 points).

One can argue that overall Brown (.335) and Tatum (.348) are better off shooting more threes, that doesn’t make sense when Brown (.313) and Tatum (.295) have shot poorly on threes over their last nine games.

Robert Williams injecting energy on the court. dark. Next

Encouraging Brown to shoot more mid-range shots should be easy. He’s already damn good at it. For Tatum, there’s no reason he can’t improve between 10-19 feet. He’s 6-8 with wide shoulders and long arms. He can get his shot over most defenders.

In my opinion, the signature play of the season so far was Tatum’s game-tying turnaround shot over Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. Imagine if Tatum can develop that shot to be automatic for him.

Likewise, imagine Brown getting to the free throw line and elevating more frequently, confident his 15-footer is as easy as a layup to him.

They can do it. And when the Jays master the mid-range shot, they will bust any potential slumps the Boston Celtics will encounter.