NBA Draft Prospect Profile: Jayson Tatum

by Jonah Ballow

The Path
Jayson Tatum garnered significant hype after an explosive senior season at Chaminade College Preparatory School in Missouri.  The five-star recruit and Gatorade National Player of the Year decided to suit up for the Duke Blue Devils, providing Coach Krzyzewski with another prolific offensive star on the perennial powerhouse team in the ACC.  An ankle injury derailed the start of Tatum’s career at Duke but the small forward found his groove at the start of the new year.  He ended of meeting expectations from a personal standpoint by averaging 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game in 2016-17.  Tatum earned third-team All-ACC honors and was named to the ACC All-Freshman team, which led to the top prospect forgoing his sophomore season at Duke to enter the NBA Draft.

In Tatum’s second collegiate contest, he dropped 22 points in 29 minutes on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor against the then ranked No. 21 Florida Gators.  This performance set the stage and Tatum showcased a pure scoring persona throughout the remainder of the 2016-17 season.  Utilizing his NBA-ready body, Tatum searched for isolation sets to gain advantages in one-on-one situations.  While in isolation, Tatum displayed a knack for rising above his defender for a jumper or accessing his fluidity to drive past the opposition for an opportunity at the rim.  His midrange game is solid while using NBA-type moves, specifically the jab step.  Defensively, Tatum shows extreme upside with the capability of defending wings on the ball and in the post.

Next Level
Tatum certainly looks the part.  Standing 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan is the prototypical measurements for the small forward position in the NBA.  Some pundits have argued that Tatum could be the best player in the draft but at the moment he’s in the 4-5 range in most mock drafts.  NBA teams will look for Tatum to expand is offensive attack out to the 3-point line.  However, his overall skill level, extreme upside, body type, and approach to the game should land him a spot in the top five on June 22.

Statistically Speaking
Tatum’s offensive rating: 111.3.

What They’re Saying
“He is strong, scores from both the post and on the perimeter and plays with aggression.” – ESPN’s Chad Ford

“What’s shocking is, when you’re standing on the floor, how big he is.  His size is imposing in that he gets up over the top of people.” – Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey