The St. Louis native is the most polished scorer of the bunch, with stellar footwork, excellent touch 18 feet in, and a mid-post/back to basket game that rivals some NBA vets. Hard jab-step pull-ups, rocker-steps, side-steps, turnarounds, Dirk fallaways, quick spins, you name it, Tatum likely has it in his arsenal. The 6'8 combo forward scored 1.03 points per possession on 33 post up possessions, first in the NCAA among high major players with at least 30 attempts. This is where Tatum's immediate value lies. While his game doesn't completely fit the pace and space style, the majority of teams are aiming to employ, there's a lot of value in Tatum's one-on-one prowess inside the arc, especially if his team is able to invert the offense and surround him with shooters. He hasn't always been the most willing passer, as he has some ISO-heavy habits that date back to his high school days, but he has more than adequate vision, and could become an asset in that area as he learns to trust his teammates, a process we see happen gradually over the course of the season at Duke.
Although his sometimes-inefficient style (lifetime 49% from two and 30% from three) and old man game' aren't for everyone, the fact that Tatum has the frame and reach to play the four (where he played almost exclusively at Duke) for long stretches in today's NBA eases potential concerns about his offensive fit as a three. He doesn't have the quickest release on his jumper, making the added time he'll have with fours closing out to him that much more valuable. Tatum converted 1.22 points per possessions on 37 unguarded' catch and shoot attempts, and only 0.85 PPP on 41 attempts when guarded', evidence that (like most players) he's better with time and space. From there, Tatum has the fluidity to attack closeouts in space, although he's not overly explosive, and has a tendency to settle for low percentage pull ups - 47th percentile off the dribble and only 10-of-35 on jumpers inside of 17 feet.
Tatum's swing skill is his 3-point shooting, an area where he showed promise throughout the year - namely a 6-of-7 game versus Virginia that featured two deep hang dribble pull-ups that he hadn't shown otherwise during the season. If he's able to step out and turn into a reliable 3-point threat, and a more instinctual ball-mover, he has the chance to become much more versatile in his already polished scoring attack.
More smooth than explosive and not overly advanced with his handle, Tatum figures to have an adjustment while at the three in terms of breaking down NBA level wing defenders and generating high percentage looks for himself or his teammates. He's a great isolation player (22.8% of his offense, 70th percentile), but he's still very green in his pick and roll play (4.4% of his offense, 0.682 PPP), as he's not going to generate a ton of offense out of ball screens at this stage of his career.
On the other side of the ball, Tatum's defensive intensity and progression physically will go a long way in determining how many minutes he is actually be able to play at the four. With a picturesque frame up top (but narrow in his lower body), an 8'10.5 standing reach and impressive instincts to boot, Tatum has the ability to rebound his position and at least provide some resistance as an interior defender, while moving his feet on the perimeter, even versus switches. An adequate wing defender when fully engaged, Tatum's intensity has to be at full throttle to bring enough to the table on the glass and on the interior.
Tatum is the most polished forward prospect of the three, and likely has the highest floor, as there's infinite value in a 6'8 combo forward with a great frame, solid length, an advanced isolation package, and a developing outside game. Tatum may not be the athlete that Josh Jackson, is or the versatile defender that Jonathan Isaac is, but at the very least, he projects as a polished scorer and longtime NBA starter with All-Star upside, if his perimeter game continues to evolve.
Scouting Report by Derek Bodner. Video Analysis by Mike Schmitz
Duke freshman Jayson Tatum lived up to the sky-high expectations placed upon him by virtue of his status as a top five recruit, finishing with averages of 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game for Mike Krzyzewski and the 28-9 Blue Devils.
Tatum stands just over 6'8" in shoes, with a 6'11" wingspan and an upper body that looks as if it can fill out over time as he matures physically. He combines that with an advanced, diversified skill level and flashes of two-way potential, which makes it easy to see why Tatum has been a top rated prospect all season long.
Tatum's bread and butter remains his strong isolation game, where nearly a quarter of his possessions came from, according to Synergy Sports Technology. Tatum was either too big, too quick, or too skilled for virtually any defender opponents could throw his way, and Duke exploited that whenever they could, particularly as the season moved along.
Tatum is a very smooth athlete at 6'8", with a wide array of moves and footwork well beyond what you would typically expect from a prospect who just turned 19 earlier this month. Tatum has a full assortment of effective jab steps, crossovers, turnarounds, fadeaways, and in-and-out dribbles to get his defender off balance and create separation. He used this combination of size, quickness, and ability to create separation with devastating effect, especially when guarded by slower power forwards.
Tatum has added to his arsenal over the last year by diversifying his offensive attack. That improvement starts on the perimeter, as Tatum connected on 34.2% of his four three-point attempts per game, an encouraging, albeit still inconsistent, addition to his game for a player who struggled from deep at times as a high school prospect. Tatum is most effective on the perimeter when he has time to gather himself, as he shot 40.5% on unguarded catch and shoot shots, according to Synergy Sports Technology, most of which were from three-point range. That form broke down a little bit when rushed, as defensive pressure resulted in some inconsistencies in his balance and shooting motion, and the 29.3% Tatum shot on contested catch-and-shoot shots ranked in the bottom third of qualified players. Shortening his release and speeding it up will likely be a focus for Tatum early on in his career, especially if a team eases him into a role rather than asking him to be a primary initiator from day one.
Tatum also showed the ability to make shots pulling up off the dribble, especially going to his left, where he was particularly comfortable using one or two rhythm dribbles to generate space. This is both a blessing and a curse, as while it allowed Tatum to shoulder a heavier offensive burden for the Blue Devils, he was also a little bit too willing at times to settle for tough, contested, midrange jumpers. Nearly 40% of Tatum's non-transition field goal attempts came on two-point jump shots, according to hoop-math.com, which he connected at just a 40.2% rate on, a particularly bad number considering so few of them resulted in fouls drawn.
Tatum does show the ability to post up when he has a size advantage, a useful skill for a player who figures to bounce between both forward spots depending on his team's scheme and the personnel around him. In fact, the 1.303 points per possession Tatum generated ranked in the 99th percentile in terms of efficiency, per Synergy Sports. Much of the coordination and footwork that allows Tatum to create separation on the perimeter also shows up on the block, where the 19-year-old has an impressive combination of moves over either shoulder. Drop steps, fadeaways, and hook shots are all in his arsenal even at this early stage of his career. This doesn't expect to be a big part of his game at the next level, but having it as an option to attack mismatches will certainly be something he can exploit from time to time.
With that said, there is some concern projecting certain aspects of Tatum's offensive game to the next level, most notably his ability to get to the rim against similar athletes. Like many tall forwards at the collegiate level, Tatum played a large portion of his minutes at the power forward spot to make way for Duke's deep perimeter attack. This afforded Tatum a quickness advantage that may not always be there at the next level.
Despite Tatum's size and fluidity, he's not an exceptionally explosive athlete by NBA standards, with an average first step that was further slowed down by a high and loose dribble. Tatum's skill level, footwork, and ability to change speeds helped him mitigate that, for the most part, at the college level, although even there he settled for more difficult pull-ups and floaters than you would have preferred, shots with a high degree of difficulty and a comparatively low expected value. Tatum will have to further refine his ball handling and diversify his skill set in order to consistently create efficient shots for himself at a high level in the NBA.
It would also be beneficial for Tatum if some of his ancillary skills were a little bit more consistent. He's gotten better shooting off the dribble, but it's still not at the point where he can consistently create value out of pick and roll sets. He's gotten better shooting off the catch but, even with a high release point, still shows inconsistencies in his mechanics, and can be bothered by a strong closeout. His handle has improved to the point where he can consistently attack a closeout and utilize some of his advanced footwork, but is still unrefined enough where it slows him down considerably and can be prone to smaller guys digging from the perimeter and forcing turnovers.
Another area of Tatum's game where he's shown enough progress to generate optimism, but not quite enough to be consistently effective at this stage of his career, is as a passer. Tatum has a perplexing combination of, at times, having a score first mentality, then at other times looking like he's seeking out passes that aren't there, forcing down to bigs on high-risk dump offs inside. At 2.6 assists per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, Tatum flashes the vision and potential to create for his teammates down the line, which is clearly a positive development for a player who wasn't always known for that in the past, but it's an aspect of his game that still doesn't feel fully fleshed out yet, partially due to his ball-stopping mentality.
The defensive side of the court presents many of the same dilemmas in terms of an intriguing base to build upon, but one which isn't yet fully developed. Tatum has the size and length to defend either forward spot, and uses his length well to contest shots, close off passing lanes, and harass players on the perimeter. He showed marked improvement in these areas as the year moved on, yet his technique can frequently break down, whether that be struggling to close out under control or an inconsistent perimeter stance, making him susceptible to misdirection moves. He also struggles defensively in the post, a combination of not engaging the offensive player far enough away from the hoop and doing so with an upright stance, along with a still underdeveloped lower body.
That last aspect, the development of his core and lower body strength to allow him to play more time in the NBA at the power forward spot, is of considerable interest. Tatum collected 7.2 defensive rebounds per 40 minutes, pace adjusted, while blocking 1.4 shots per 40 minutes when adjusting for pace as well. If Tatum is able to improve his lower body strength as his frame fills out, continuing to get minutes as a face-up power forward is certainly in the cards, and would help maximize some of the strengths we saw from Tatum at the college level, even if the league-wide trend in the NBA towards making the power forward spot more of a "big wing" might make this advantage not quite as pronounced as it would have been in the past.
Jayson Tatum remains one of the more unique players in this draft, with an advanced array of offensive moves, high skill level, and a physical profile that affords him considerable potential, and versatility, on the defensive end as well. While this keeps Tatum's floor relatively high, there's still some question about exactly what his role will be at the next level. Can he continue to hone his offensive game to the point where he can develop into a high-level, efficient, shot creator for both himself and his teammates? If not, can he continue to refine his off-ball skills to be a more consistent shooter on the perimeter, and thus a more effective secondary offensive option? These are the questions NBA decision makers will be tasked with figuring out over the next few months as they try to pin down exactly what Tatum's ceiling is.
Jayson Tatum had somewhat of an up and down week in Portland, as he was able to showcase his excellent scoring instincts and very high-skill level, but struggled at times to fit into the team concept USA Basketball was trying to implement.
Tatum has very good size for the wing, standing 6'8 with a 6'11 wingspan and a tremendous frame that continues to fill out nicely. He is more smooth than he is explosive as an athlete, even if he'll surprise you at times with his ability to finish around the rim in transition.
Tatum loves to operate in mid-range spots, where he often looks to overhandle and showcase his polished footwork, ball-handling ability, and very soft touch. He tends to overuse his dribble at this stage of his development, pulling up off a single bounce instead of taking wide open catch and shoot jumpers for example. He's very effective at making tough shots off the dribble, as he creates separation wonderfully, but seems to overcomplicate matters unnecessarily at times, leading to inefficient play.
Tatum struggled to finish around the rim in traffic at times throughout the week, particularly driving left, and didn't look all that interested in shooting 3-pointers either, preferring to operate in the mid-range area instead.
He wasn't the most willing passer on the team this week by any stretch, really looking for his own offense almost exclusively at times, even though he can execute some really creative passes when he shows the inclination.
Defensively, Tatum doesn't always show great intensity at this stage, but is capable of being very disruptive when locked in. He has both the tools, and the instincts to be a real playmaker in the passing lanes and as a shot-blocker, but will need to show better desire to utilize them more frequently.
Tatum is undoubtedly a tremendous talent who will benefit substantially from the jump in competition and coaching he'll find at the college level. He has all the tools to be an incredibly versatile player, but is still figuring out how to make the most of them at this stage.
Height (w/ shoes): 6-8.25 Weight: 204 Wingspan: 6'11 Standing Reach: 8-10.5 Like Jackson, Tatum's measurements line up with the data we've received in the past. The thought was that the talented small forward may have some growing left to do when he first shot up to 6'8 two years ago, but that hasn't been the case to this point. Nonetheless, Tatum has good size for his position at any level, even if his frame is still developing.
Jayson Tatum, 6-7, SG/SF, St. Louis, MO, Class of 2016
Strengths -Nice size and length for a wing at 6' 7 with a 6' 10 wingspan -Continues to make progress on his body 206 pounds of lean muscle. Has gained 15 pounds since he weighed in at 191 pounds before the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship, and 40 pounds in the past three years. Big shoulders. -Very good athlete who displays excellent fluidity and can play above the rim both in transition and the half court. Extremely agile and coordinated. Great body control. -Elite skill level for his age. -Comfortable ball handler who's capable of bringing the ball up and operating out of pick and roll. Not overly advanced but changes speeds smoothly. Very good burst. -Mid-range killer. Elite footwork. Sports a high release with very good rotation. Creates separation with step backs and a slight lean on his jumper. Uses pivots. -Impressive mid-post package. Uses spin moves, up and unders, turnaround jumpers over either shoulder. -Should develop into an above average spot-up 3-point shooter in time given his mechanics. -Has the tools to be a very solid defender
Weaknesses -Very skilled but can be a bit of a ball stopper. Relies a bit too much on 1-on-1 isolations. -Can be somewhat predictable at times. Has a tendency to catch on the perimeter, drive left, and either take a two-dribble pull up or go into a brief post up and eventually take a mid-range pull up while drifting to his left. - Not the most willing passer. Has some vision but wants to score. Gives it up when he has to, and isn't overly creative with his passes. -Isn't all that comfortable taking (and making) catch and shoot threes with regularity. Very solid mechanics just needs to improve his shot preparation and the speed of his release. It's more about developing a catch and shoot mindset instead of immediately dribbling and trying to get to mid-range spots. -Hasn't completely tapped into his defensive potential quite yet. -Fairly quiet on the floor. Not the most vocal player.
Outlook: Tatum took the Mini-Camp by storm early and often as he thoroughly dominated the first session, sporting an improved frame, added explosiveness and the skill set that scouts and coaches alike have become accustomed to seeing. When Tatum was rolling, he did virtually whatever he wanted on the floor and looked the part of a potential #1 overall pick. As the camp progressed, however, Tatum began to show some small holes in his game namely spot shooting and shot selection. The 2016 Duke commit proved that he still has some areas of his game to improve upon, but there's no doubting his physical profile, skill level and production at the highest level. Tatum should be a significant contributor in the ACC once he steps foot on campus and is likely to be a very high pick whenever he decides to enter the draft.
Strengths: -Great size for a wing at 6-8 in shoes. 200 pound frame that will fill out nicely in time -Incredibly fluid and mobile athlete. Silky smooth -Quick jumper. Surprises you with his ability to get up and make plays around the rim. Way more explosive than you'd expect on first glance -Tremendous ball-handler in open court. Huge weapon in transition. Ignites the break on regular basis -Shows nice potential in pick and roll and isolation situations -Can make shots with feet set and off the dribble. Hit 40% of 3-point attempts on limited number of attempts at U19s. Career 76% free throw shooter already -Great feel for getting in the passing lanes. 3.2 steals per 40. Also shows terrific anticipation skills for blocks (1.5 per-40) -Two years younger than much of the competition as a 1998-born player.
Weaknesses: -Doesn't know how to use his tools consistently in the half-court at the moment -Can't always finish everything he creates around the basket. Lacks a degree of strength and toughness. Shies away from contact at times. Made just 35% of attempts inside the paint in the half-court -Barely got to free throw line at U19s -Needs to improve the quickness of his release on jump-shot, both with feet set and off the dribble. -Career 28% 3-point shooter. Will become a good shooter in time, but not automatic quite yet
Outlook: Superbly talented wing player with a terrific skill-level and feel for the game. Effortless athlete for whom everything comes easy.
-Jayson Tatum has grown nearly three inches and added 25 pounds to his frame since his first USA Basketball experience as a 14-year old three years ago. Tatum isn't quite as long as Otto Porter, but at 6'8 in shoes with a 200 pound frame and 6'10.5 wingspan shares some similarities physically with the Wizards small forward who measured 6'8.5 in shoes with a 200-pound frame and 7'1.5 wingspan in 2013 at the NBA Draft Combine. Only 17 years old, Tatum could conceivably continue to grow in the coming years.