Added Strength Gives Tatum Confidence Boost Entering Year 2
BOSTON – Jayson Tatum walked into the first day of Celtics training camp Tuesday morning with a little extra swagger in his step. He was also carrying seven extra pounds of muscle on his body, and that's no coincidence.
The 6-foot-8 Celtics wing entered his NBA first offseason understanding that he needed to add a bit of strength to his 205-pound frame in order to finish more efficiently through contact against larger opponents, so that’s exactly what he focused on throughout the summer.
“I was 19 when I came in last year,” Tatum said Tuesday evening, following the second practice of Day 1 of his sophomore campaign. “I had never been the biggest guy, so I knew it was going to be an adjustment. And it was.”
Tatum hit the gym consistently this past summer, he ate well and he returned to camp with a little extra bulk. He revealed to Celtics.com that he now weighs in the 212-213-pound range.
However, the most satisfying results of Tatum's hard work are not the ones showing up on the scale, but on the court.
“I’m working on finishing and working on not getting bumped and pushed around as much as I did last year,” Tatum said. “So, I’ve been getting better at that.”
After being with Tatum in the gym over the last few weeks, his teammates can confirm this claim.
“That kid can play. He’s gotten better,” said veteran forward Marucs Morris. “I’ve said all along that he’s special. I just think that he’s going to be even better this year.”
What’s going to make Tatum even better is having a stronger core. The core is the most vital muscular area in a basketball player’s body, according to C’s coach Brad Stevens, so that’s was one of Tatum’s main target points over the summer.
“Every one of our guys has to play lower, longer,” explained Stevens. “And core strength is the most important part of that – being able to get in a stance, play through contact, play through fatigue. Staying down and playing low takes a lot of strength and a lot of core strength. That’s been his focus.”
While Tatum is eager to gain strength and muscle, he also understands that doing so is a gradual process. He still wants to maintain his speed and agility, so he needs to feel out how his body handles change.
“It’s not something you can’t rush because you still want to be able to move how you move,” he said. “It’s still going to take some time. I don’t want to get super big. I’m still pretty young – I’ve gotta fill out.”
The amount that Tatum filled out over the summer seems to be just right, so far. The added strength has boosted his confidence and his teammates say he looks like a completely different player than the one who entered the league last fall.
“Oh, he's super different," said fourth-year guard Terry Rozier. "Last year he got some go, but you couldn’t really see it all the way because of his nervousness kicking in. But he’s calmed down, and now, he comes back this summer, he’s got that ‘I’m the man’ look, and he’s been killing it. He’s been looking good, real good.”
Part of that confidence boost is also a result of Tatum’s offseason workouts with Kobe Bryant and Penny Hardaway. He claims that the pair of NBA legends helped to instill a mindset within him “of attacking the rim strong, trying to punish guys and dunking everything.”
Now that he has bit more strength and muscle to work with, Tatum should be able to carry out that mindset throughout his sophomore season and beyond.