Brew Hoop readers close out the top-5 with a familiar looking player skilled at putting up points at will. In line with most critics, the next freshman off the board is this wing scorer from the ACC: Jayson Tatum - SF, Duke.
Tatum, a vaunted top-5 recruit coming into Duke, lived up to a lot of his potential, and he’s a near consensus top-5 pick for good reasons. His talented offensive game and physical tools make him a prototypical NBA wing, but his Duke lineage and lack of refinement makes some wary of selecting the high-floor forward. With an impressive body, 6’8” and 204 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan, the 19-year old Tatum is primed to fill out throughout his career allowing him to add more power on both ends of the court.
There are many parallels that can be drawn between former Duke forward Jabari Parker and Tatum. With a wide array of offensive moves, a middling jump shot, and the body and athleticism to be a plus-side defender there are questions as to whether he’ll evolve into a complete NBA player -- questions Bucks fans continue to grapple with regarding Parker. Tatum can get buckets, he averaged 20.2 points per 40 minutes, but he also had the highest usage percentage, 25.4%, on his Duke team while his offensive rating was only 108.9, according to barttorvik.com.
In college, Tatum could use his speed or size to exploit his defender depending on the more promising disparity, but, with only average quickness, it remains to be seen if Tatum can expand his offensive arsenal to exploit elite NBA defenders with the same ease. Dribbling and handles aren’t Tatum’s forte. Tightening up his dribble will improve his attacking of closeouts and maneuverability on drives to the paint, where he prefers to attack on his own. Tatum shot an impressive 62% on 121 shots at the rim and 70.7% of them were unassisted, according to hoop-math.com. He’s always looking to create his own shot from the perimeter primarily by attacking rather than using his jump shot.
He shot a solid 34.2% from behind the arc, a marked improvement from his high school days, and Tatum works much better with separation on his shot. Off the dribble Tatum prefers driving for a step-back mid range jumper, 12% of which were assisted, whereas behind the arc he works more efficiently as a catch-and-shoot prospect, 87.5% of which were assisted. His shooting form is cleaner and smoother with space, and with an 84.9% free throw percentage, Tatum’s more easily projected as an above average three-point shooter in the pros.
It’s been established Tatum can get his, but a concerning aspect of his offensive game is playmaking for teammates. Per 40 minutes Tatum averaged 2.6 assists per game alongside a frightening 3.1 turnovers for a 0.82 assist/turnover ratio. His 17.7 TO% was the largest among his Duke squad for players who played more than 21% of minutes on the season.
On the defensive end of the floor Tatum has shown some promise and he’s got the body to be a plus-defender, but the Blue Devil pedigree isn’t helping him here. He’s got the speed to stick with faster players and his length helps him bother shots and bog down passing lanes. Averaging 1.4 blocks per 40 minutes and a 2.3% steal percentage represent Tatum’s ability to use his body properly, but it’s the mental and fundamental part of the game where he struggles. Staying locked in and sticking to a defensive game plan was a struggle at Duke, but it’s possible that an NBA team can better coach him on that end. In addition to his defensive stance needing some tweaks Tatum has issues closing out and guarding shifty players with impressive handles. As Tatum’s lower-body grows stronger he should be able to bother players in the post with more ease as well. Averaging 7.2 defensive rebounds per 40 and a 19.7 defensive rebounding percentage Tatum has shown a proclivity to clean up the boards.
Tatum easily stretched his game to both forward positions in college and he’ll be asked to do the same in the NBA. Shooting and size are the two limiting factors for that, and Tatum projects the ability to improve both to effectively stretch his game as a power forward.
Despite an elite offensive game Tatum’s overall outlook at the NBA has some holes. He projects as a scorer, but will he be able to cut his bad habit of ball-stopping to work for his own shot? Tatum is a high-upside player if a coaching staff can work with him to utilize his talents within the flow of an offense and tighten up his game. Comparisons to Jabari Parker are apt, but injuries have derailed his development and made his future ambiguous. Tatum probably won’t fall past the Kings at number 5, and some team will get a very talented player in Jayson Tatum.
The 2017 Brew Hoop Draft Board
- Markelle Fultz - PG, Washington - DraftExpress Profile
- Lonzo Ball - PG, UCLA - DraftExpress Profile
- Josh Jackson - SF, Kansas - DraftExpress Profile
- De’Aaron Fox - PG, Kentucky - DraftExpress Profile
- Jayson Tatum - SF, Duke - DraftExpress Profile
My pick for the #6 spot on the Brew Hoop Community Draft Board is:
This poll is closed
Malik Monk - SG, Kentucky
Jonathan Isaac - SF/PF, Florida State
Dennis Smith - PG, N.C. State
Lauri Markkanen - PF, Arizona
Frank Ntilikina - PG, Strasbourg
Zach Collins - PF/C, Gonzaga
Trade the pick!