There's a running joke that Kobe Bryant is a double agent sent by the Los Angeles Lakers to sabotage Jayson Tatum.
It was Bryant, after all, who worked out with Tatum on several occasions last offseason and may or may not have contributed to the Boston Celtics forward's newfound habit of chucking long twos.
And after those workouts with Bryant, Tatum registered significant dips in overall field goal percentage (47.5 to 45.0), 3-point field goal percentage (43.4 to 37.3) and effective field goal percentage (53.8 to 50.6) from his rookie year as part of an unfulfilling 2018-19 campaign in Boston.
But the 21-year-old is aware of all this, and apparently he's doing something about it. In an interview with ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Tatum laid out four simple areas he's worked all offseason to improve in.
"Focus on getting to the basket much more," Tatum said told Bontemps. "Shoot more 3s, and layups, and free throws."
Tatum has gotten help from his trainer, Drew Hanlen, who used simple math to convince his client to ditch the inefficient long two.
"I basically said, 'If you just shoot six free throws per game and six 3s per game at the same percentages you did last season, then you'll raise your [scoring] average from 15.7 to 20.7,' " Hanlen told Bontemps. "That makes you an All-Star."
That's no easy task, considering Tatum attempted just 2.9 free throws and 3.9 3-pointers per game in 2018-19. But Tatum should have the freedom to be more aggressive in 2019-20, considering a combined 53.2 shot attempts per game walked out the door this offseason in Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Al Horford, Terry Rozier and Aron Baynes.
If Tatum approaches that offensive void with the efficient approach he's worked on this offseason, then it's very possible Hanlen's All-Star prediction will come true.
Take that, Kobe.
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