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NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Jayson Tatum

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By Nick Neppach

Jayson Tatum: Small Forward, Duke

  • Height: 6'8" Wingspan: 6'9" Weight: 205
  • Can score in multiple ways and take over a game.
  • Needs to get stronger, stay focused on defense.

When I watch prospects one of the first things I look for is what they do extremely well. When it comes to Jayson Tatum, it took just a couple of games to find out that he can really score. Tatum is not one dimensional, he can score in multiple ways.

Tatum can drive, fallaway, shoots threes, step back jumpers, and pull up jumpers. He forces the defense to stay honest.

In Duke's game at Florida State, Tatum has the defender right on him. He fakes the step back, gets the defender off balance, drives, and finishes through contact.

Then in Duke's game at Virginia, Tatum fakes the step back again. But this time instead of driving, he takes one dribble the pulls up and hits the three.

The game against Virginia was one of Tatum's best, and most efficient. He finished the game with 28 points on 8 of 13 shooting, making 6 of 7 from three. Overall, his three-point shooting percentage isn't great, (34.2% according to Hoop-Math). But his ability to go on streaks, like he did against Virginia, shows it can be a real weapon.

If a team closes out on the three-point line, Tatum has the ability to step inside the line and hit a jumper. At Syracuse, he shows a smooth fake, followed by one dribble to the baseline, and he knocks down the pull up jumper.

At Duke, Tatum is put in a lot of isolation plays. It has given him the opportunity to show his versatility one-on-one against a defender. This is my favorite example against Florida during the Jimmy V Classic. Tatum creates so much space with the small fake towards the baseline, and the one-legged fallaway.

*Shoutout to Dirk*

Tatum's versatility as a scorer forces defenses to be ready for anything. If they make it a point to take away the three, he can drive. If the big slides over to protect the rim, he can pull up, or finish through contact.

On the defensive side of the ball, Tatum can get lost. At times, it feels like he gets caught watching the play. But he has versatility there as well. He can switch to guard 1 through 4. Tatum is not overly quick but he has enough quickness to defend guards on the perimeter. He also has just enough height to match up with power forwards. While this works at the college level, matching up with bigger forwards at the next level could give him problems. His lack of length and strength is a liability when defending under the basket.

Tatum's offensive game, and ability to create for teammates makes him worth a top pick. He can create his own shot. Which is becoming a necessary skill in today's NBA. However, his game doesn't come without flaws. Carelessness with the ball has been a problem at times, and when matched up with other skilled athletes Tatum has struggled to create space. But plug him on a team that has another player or two that can score, and I believe Tatum can thrive at the next level.

Plus, one time he did this.

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