Celtics' Jayson Tatum studies these NBA stars to improve his game

Jayson Tatum has tried to adopt these Steph Curry, Embiid attributes originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

How has Jayson Tatum blossomed into one of the NBA's best players? In part by meticulously studying some of the game's best players.

In an interview with The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach, the Celtics star was asked to name a few opponents he enjoys watching and listed several all-world talents.

"I watch a lot of [Kevin Durant]," Tatum said. "I watch a lot of [DeMar] DeRozan. I watch some older clips of Kawhi [Leonard]. I love watching [Joel] Embiid play. I love watching Giannis [Antetokounmpo] play, even though we’re two totally different players."

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Tatum also highlighted two stars he battled with in the 2022 postseason: Miami Heat wing Jimmy Butler and Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry. Tatum isn't just a passive observer of the NBA's elite, though. The 24-year-old noted he has tried implement elements of Embiid's post moves and Curry's movement without the ball into his own game.

"Joel’s footwork in the post, just how he moves so gracefully. To be that big and how effortless and smooth it looks," Tatum said. "Steph, how he moves without the ball and is probably one of the best screeners in the world. He draws so much attention. That's something I’ve tried to do a lot more is play off the ball and still be effective."

Tatum has definitely improved in that last aspect. While the ball would sometimes stick with him earlier in his NBA career, he's become a much better distributor and become much more active without the ball. He's tallied five or more assists in nine of 17 games this season, while his average seconds per touch and average dribbles per touch both have decreased from last season, per NBA tracking data.

Tatum is an immensely talented scorer who is on pace to become Boston's first 30-point scorer since Larry Bird. But he's become a much more well-rounded player over the past two seasons to vault into the NBA MVP discussion. That's a testament to his hard work and his willingness to learn from his contemporaries.