Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“Driving and getting downhill through contact and being able to finish around the rim is our No. 1 focus,” Hanlen said. “And then consistency when he’s shooting off the dribble or off a full-speed move from the 3-point line. Those are our two things, just getting to the rim and drawing fouls, and finishing when you do get to the rim, and then consistency with threes. We just want him to be more efficient, and we think he will be. He’s as locked in as I’ve ever seen him. He’s very, very locked in.”
Boston Globe — Jayson Tatum’s skill coach highlights big summer
It took maybe a week or two longer than usual, given the sheer chaos of this off-season’s free agency bonanza, but we’ve officially hit the off-season dead zone. Get ready for lots of vacation videos (where’s the next banana boat coming from this year?) and loads of off-season workout videos (there’s Ben Simmons shooting jumpers over a 5th grade boys travel team at a Philadelphia Sports Club! He’s putting in WORK).
With that context fully laid out, excuse me for being skeptical as always about these reports from Jayson Tatum’s
hype man trainer, Drew Hanlen. Give them this: Hanlen and Tatum are working on all of the things that we as fans pleaded Tatum to start doing last season. Start going to the rim more, start drawing contact, start taking more threes, oh, and stop settling for mid-range jumpers.
For as much as Kyrie Irving was the poster child for discontent and then the rightful scapegoat for a season gone wrong, it was jarring to watch Tatum regress last season. Part of it was circumstantial, but part of it seemed to be that Tatum was coming into the 18-19 campaign a little high on himself. He was in magazines, he worked with Kobe, he carried himself as though he had arrived. Last season had to be a bit humbling.
So, the fact that stories about Tatum this off-season are centered more on what he’s doing to get better and less about off-court plaudits is promising. The only caveat with these stories about off-season work is that nearly everyone in the league is doing the same thing right now.
For Tatum to really break out this season (which I think he can, and will) it’ll take making all of the adjustments Hanlen and he are working on, but an attitude adjustment, the exit of Kyrie Irving, and a thinning of the roster depth behind him should make all of this possible as well.
On page 2, a first look at a possible Celtics’ rotation
The Celtics have less established talent further down the rotation than last season, but that could actually help. The Celtics should be able to avoid in-fighting from players competing with their own teammates for shine. Still, the team needs to find contributors from a crop of inexperienced rookies and youngsters. Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye will have a chance to earn some minutes vacated by the departed Marcus Morris. Carsen Edwards and Romeo Langford will vie for Terry Rozier’s old bench spot. The Celtics took a hit in sheer talent, but can realistically hope to benefit from adding energetic role players to the mix. At least one or two unproven guys should be relied upon for regular minutes.
Jay King breaks out the scratch paper and pencil and after working through what he claims were numerous iterations, publishes his first draft for divvying up all of the Celtics’ available minutes.
Seeing a Cs rotation written out on paper set off alarm bells for me in one big area: the bench.
As opposed to last year’s Bench Mob (which, like most of last year’s Celtics, fizzled big time), this year’s bench looks incredibly thin on experience.
After sixth man Jaylen Brown (not a bad option at all), spots 7-10 belong to Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards. King leaves out the Cs lottery pick, Romeo Langford, potential back-up point guard, Brad Wannamaker and two of the Celtics’ big man options, Vincent Poirier and Robert Williams.
While guys like Williams and Edwards showed out in summer league and Ojeleye and Theis could prove to be consistent rotation guys with bigger roles, the bench has the potential to be a real weak spot.
If the Celtics brass recognizes this early on, could they give a call to a veteran free agent who can help stabilize things?
Or, will a lack of in-fighting that King describes actually unlock the potential of some of these guys? I’d look to Semi in particular. Knowing that 15 or so minutes are his if he really goes after them, perhaps he’ll take his game to another level.
While there are questions about how guys like Jaylen and Jayson take a step forward, and about Gordon Hayward’s second full season post ankle injury, it’s going to be the bench that provides the most intrigue early this season.