Jayson Tatum is an impressive kid. His rookie season has exceeded almost everyone’s expectations. His playoff debut was a wonderful two-way effort during which he controlled stretches of time offensively.
On a team with few good offensive options left, Tatum’s ability to create his own shot stands out. And one way he’s creating that shot keeps recurring.
It’s a sneaky up and under move in the mid-range.
It’s somewhat appropriate that a kid who has drawn comparisons to Paul Pierce will have such a deadly weapon from this area. He is taking advantage of defenders and putting them on skates much like Pierce did once upon a time. Except his key element is zigging where Pierce zagged.
The Truth set players up for a fadeaway. Tatum LOOKS like he’s doing so, then he adds one more twist.
After the crossover, he knows he’s got Giannis overreacting. Tatum dribbles hard to the middle throws up a pump fake gets Giannis off the ground. He beautifully throws another head and shoulder deke before taking that long stride to turn it into a soft 12 footer.
He caught Malcolm Brogdon with it in the 4th quarter, this time on the post.
A head and shoulder shimmy which almost ALWAYS becomes a fadeaway jumper but Tatum again catches his defender guessing that’s what’s coming. So he ducks under Brogdon’s outstretched arm and launches another soft floater.
This play is damn near impossible to defend 1-on-1 because Tatum will just as gladly launch that fadeaway if he reads the defender anticipating this.
It’s basically setting someone up for a left all fight then popping him with a straight right hand. Doing something like this once or twice a game means the defender can’t guess. And if he can’t guess, he’s not going to have much success stopping it.
There may be some people who cringe at a kid working the mid-range game but I think it’s necessary to keep teams honest. Having a threat there means that threat’s gravity can open things up from three.
Paint touches are important, and if those paint touches result in this, then they’re important to take. It’s also what he does exceptionally well and Brad Stevens isn’t going to stop him from whipping this move out from time to time.
We’ll see it again for sure. If we see it enough, it might just become Tatum’s signature move.