Jayson Tatum established himself as an elite scorer for the Boston Celtics last season.
Not only did he average a career high and team-leading 26.4 points per game, he also scored 50-plus points in four games (including the playoffs) -- the most ever by a Celtics player in a single season.
The best way for Tatum to take the next step offensively and potentially challenge for the scoring title -- which would probably require scoring 30 or more points per night -- is shooting more free throws.
It sounds like that's one area where the two-time All-Star is hoping to improve heading into next season.
“I don’t think there wasn’t anything the Nets threw at him that he wasn’t prepared for, but we noticed a big trend,” Tatum's shooting/workout coach Drew Hanlen told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.
“When Jayson shot a high volume of free throws, he put up huge numbers. That’s the big focus — being able to get downhill more, which allows him to get to the line more, which also allows him to add another dynamic to his game. That’s the focus.”
Tatum finished tied for 10th in points per game last season despite averaging just 5.3 free throw attempts. The only players in the top 10 in scoring who averaged fewer attempts from the free throw line were Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (5.1) and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (4.0).
Tatum has always shot well from the free throw line. He's never been below 81.2 percent in any of his four seasons with the C's, and his 86.8 percent success rate at the foul line in 2020-21 was a career high.
Getting to the free throw line wasn't just a Tatum problem last season, though. The entire team struggled in this area. The Celtics ranked 25th of 30 teams with just 20.8 free throw attempts per game.
Increasing that number next season would go a long way in helping the Celtics return to the upper tier of Eastern Conference contenders.