Jayson Tatum has been on a tear lately. He’s been picking apart defenses on a nightly basis for a few weeks now. The reason why is because his manipulation of pick and rolls has reached another level.
In the first clip, the defender goes over the screen, which allows Tatum to get a head start to the basket. Once he gets by, he slows up, keeping the defender on his back, which essentially turns this into a 2 on 1. If the defender who’s guarding Daniel Theis pops onto him, he gives Theis the ball for a simple basket. If not, he dribbles around the big and scores, which is what he does here with ease. That split second decision, using his strength and ball handling, creates an easy basket 75% of the time.
The reason this works so well is because of Tatum’s ability to hit off dribble threes at a high rate. In the second clip the defender goes over the screen, but Tatum still has enough room to evade the contest from the side, and the contest from in front by Rob Williams defender. The pick and roll game doesn’t work if defenders aren’t worried about Tatum’s threes, but he’s been hitting these shots at and absurd clip for awhile now, and defenders have been taking notice. It also helps having good perimeter shooters like Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown to help out if extra defenders switch off them. It will be interesting to see how the offense operates when Kemba returns. Factoring in his return and Tatum’s rise, this team definitely has to be considered a legit contender for this year and years to come.
(Originally posted on February 28, 2020)