When the Celtics kicked off training camp in Newport back in September, I was curious to hear what the team viewed as the most intriguing subplot to the upcoming season.
Outside shooting was an issue that came up quite a bit in my chats with team personnel. Boston had lost a lot of 3-point shooting this offseason (Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder) and there wasn’t any reliable shooting on the roster among the younger guys. Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier had been spotty 3-point shooters (to put it kindly) over the past couple seasons, while Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were both young and unproven from beyond the arc in big minutes.
The Celtics needed to find someone to hit all those open corner 3s that Bradley, Crowder and company knocked down last year and it wasn’t clear early on who could be counted on to step up and do it when Kyrie Irving kicked the ball out from the lane. The issue became even more pressing when the team’s best wing shooter (Gordon Hayward) went down. Boston looked like they were going to have to make a move for a shooter on the wing and they still might need to upgrade there at some point before the year is over.
For now, the main answer to this potential issue has been found in-house, in the form of a 19-year-old Tatum. The forward (21 points, 8 rebounds) went 3-of-5 from 3-point range on Monday night in Atlanta during Boston’s 110-107 win, raising his 3-point average for the season to 52.9 percent. Through 12 games, Tatum has the third-best accuracy in the league among players attempting more than three shots per game from downtown.
He’s done even more damage from the corners, where he has hit 9-of-11 3-point attempts thus far.
That kind of marksmanship has been lethal for a Celtics’ offense that has struggled to find reliable shooting from the backcourt in various games. On Monday night, Tatum did all of his damage from his favorite spot on the floor and it proved critical in helping the escape with their ninth-straight win in Atlanta. Let’s break down his big second half from the left corner.
Corner 3 No. 1 (late third quarter)