Before the NBA season came to a halt, Jayson Tatum was playing some of the best basketball of his life, earning the Eastern Conference Player of the Month honor in February after averaging over 30 points per game in that stretch.
While Tatum had his share of ups and downs in the first few months of the season, he approached an All-NBA level in February after struggling for weeks with his finishing at the rim. So what exactly led to his midseason leap? The 21-year-old revealed on Jeff Goodman's "Good 'N Plenty" podcast with CLNS Media on Monday that getting an All-Star nod in his third NBA season took a lot of pressure off the young forward.
"It was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders when I found out," Tatum said of the honor. "Ever since then I’ve just played a lot more relaxed and a lot more free, and I think that had a lot to do with it."
Tatum went into greater detail to explain just how exactly the pressure was getting to him before being named to the team alongside fellow Celtic Kemba Walker.
"Early in the season, I put so much pressure on myself mentally," Tatum told Goodman. "Obviously, I wanted to win. I wanted us to be a really good team, but I also thought about making the All-Star Game every day. Every time I had a bad game I remember I would text Drew and I'd be like, ‘Drew, I don’t think I’m gonna make it any more' and he’d be like, 'Bro, relax.'" And then I would have a good game and I’d be like, 'Bro, I think I’m gonna make it.’"
"When I went 1-for-18 (against the Dallas Mavericks), I was in my head like: 'Everybody is going to think about this one. I’m not going to make it.' "
Despite a few ugly performances amid a terrific overall campaign over the first half of the year, Tatum was voted to the