Dr. Jayson and Mr. Hyde: Looking at Jayson Tatum's Off Nights


It appears that the Boston Celtics have finally hit their stride in what has been a roller coaster of a season.  Winners of nine of their past 11, they seem to be peaking at the right time.  

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

There are many reasons for their improved play as of late, but Jayson Tatum's surge tops that list. 

Not only has he been scoring - he's had games of 53 and 44 points - but he's been stuffing the stat sheet in other areas as well.  He's had nine rebounds or more in eight of the past 11 games, and five or more assists in five games.  He's knocked down clutch shots, carried the Celtics for portions of games, and has looked every bit of the All Star that he is. 

However, there's one issue that continues to plague him.  As gifted as Tatum is offensively, every now and then he will have a dud of a game.  A game where he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat.  Over the course of an 82 game season, I understand off nights happen, but they just seem to happen far too often for a guy of his caliber. 

This year, Tatum has five absolute stinkers.  My definition of that is shooting less than 30% from the field.  So, five games where Tatum has shot worse than 30% from the field and he's actually had two games where has shot worse than 20% from the field.  Funny enough they have come in each of his last two games, hence the timing of this article. In those five games, the Celtics are 2-3.

In Tatum's last two games, he has shot 3 for 17 in each one, a shooting percentage of just 17%.  This coming off of a nine-game stretch in which he shot better than 50% overall. 

On the season, Tatum is shooting 45% from the field.  A solid number, but nothing spectacular.  Among small forwards, that's just 20th in the league.  However, for a guy who takes as many shots as he does, his field goal percentage is bound to be a little lower than most.  The top small forward in the league is Michael Porter Jr. who shoots 54%, but takes eight fewer shots than Tatum per game. 

It's not fair to compare him to guys like that, so I decided to look at players with similar shot volumes.  Tatum is one of eight players in the league averaging 20+ shots per game.  The other seven: Bradley Beal, Nikola Vucevic, Stephen Curry, Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Luka Doncic. 

Here's how Tatum compares to them:

When you think about some of the shots Lillard takes, it's not a surprise that he would have some poor shooting games.  I was a bit surprised by Mitchell.

I also took a look at how Tatum compares to Jaylen Brown and then some of the other elites in the game: LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.  Each of these guys averages 18 shots a game, so just around the same volume as Tatum. 

I also looked at Kevin Durant's numbers from his last full season in 2018-19.  In 78 regular season games, Durant had just one game where he shot worse than 30%, but none where he was worse than 20%. 

These numbers affirm the fact that off games happen, even for the best scorers/shooters.  They just seem to happen a little more often for Tatum.  We all recognize that Tatum has elite level talent and abilities, and has what it takes to be a superstar in this league.  The next step for him is a just a bit more consistency. 

This Celtics team will only go as far as Tatum takes them in the playoffs.  If he has these types of games, that won't be very far. 

Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34.

Check out Above The Parquet, the Syndicate’s podcast dedicated solely to the Boston Celtics and the rest of the NBA.  Follow on Twitter @AboveTheParquet.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Dr. Jayson and Mr. Hyde: Looking at Jayson Tatum's Off Nights
Dr. Jayson and Mr. Hyde: Looking at Jayson Tatum's Off Nights
Boston Sports Syndicate
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