How Tatum's trainer is preparing C's star for 2022-23 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Jayson Tatum earned the third All-Star nod of his young career last season. He averaged career-highs in points (26.9), rebounds (8.0), and assists (4.4) per game and was only two wins away from bringing Banner 18 to Boston.
As great as Tatum was, the Celtics will need him to be even better next season to return to the NBA Finals. The 24-year-old is putting in the work to make that happen.
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Tatum's trainer, Drew Hanlen, shed some light on how the C's superstar is preparing to take the next step in 2022-23. After bulking up last offseason, the focus this time around is on balancing strength with flexibility.
"You need him to move well, you need him to stay lower which is a flexibility thing, get stronger for injury prevention, while also improving his cardio - that's a hard thing to throw into a blender and come out with the perfect smoothie," Hanlen told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald.
"We thought he added too much weight last summer. We loved the strength he added but thought the weight was slowing him down a little bit at the beginning of last season. But once he got back down to the same playing weight, but continued to have the strength he developed, we thought that was a good place for his body to be at. It's not necessarily about him bulking up or anything. It's him continuing to figure out what's the best combination of speed and size, which is a balance players have to play around with throughout their career."
Tatum's shooting improved over the course of last season, but he's undoubtedly at his best when he attacks the rim. The hope is that his added strength and flexibility helps him improve in that department.
"We'd love for him to shoot more free throws, and some of the stuff that wasn't called in the playoffs you would hope gets called," Hanlen told Murphy. "Our big focus is if we improve his driving angles, if we focus on finishing instead of drawing fouls, it will actually result in more trips to the line. That's our focus - the stuff we can control, which is better driving angles, more ball security, improved finishing. Those will result in better numbers at the rim, less turnovers, and more free throws."
That's music to Celtics fans' ears. Tatum made strides as a playmaker in 2021-22, but turning the ball over came back to bite him in the playoffs as he averaged 4.2 turnovers per game. The team's inability to take care of the basketball ultimately doomed their NBA title hopes.
Other than those tweaks, it's business as usual for Tatum as he prepares for Year 6.
"He's just getting back in the swing of things, but it will be his normal routine - work out, lift weights, on-court, treatment and shots up at night," Hanlen said. "That's the routine that's worked really well for his entire career."
The Celtics begin preseason on Oct. 2 vs. the Charlotte Hornets at TD Garden.