Jayson Tatum NBA Draft Profile


Jayson Tatum, Freshman, Forward, Duke



A top five national recruit, Jayson Tatum committed to Duke with hopes of becoming the next one-and-done top draft pick under Coach K. Tatum missed the first eight games of the season with a foot injury, but immediately made his impact felt when he saw the court. He dropped 22 on a good Florida team in his second career college game and went on to average 16.8 points for the season. Standing 6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan and 200+ lb. frame, he has ideal size for an NBA small forward. Tatum is at his best in isolation situations, which is a coveted skill in the NBA.

Jayson Tatum is a walking mismatch on the offensive end of the floor. He is especially dangerous in transition where it’s nearly impossible to stop him from getting all the way to the hoop. He’s a smooth athlete for his size, making him a tough cover for bigger, slow-footed forwards. However, at 6-8, he’s also too big for smaller players to check. In the half-court, Tatum has a complete arsenal of moves he can use in one-on-one situations. He goes to work in the mid-post, using jab-steps and crossovers to create space for him to hit fade-aways and turnaround jumpers with ease. He loves using hard fakes to get the defender going one way, then quickly stepping back for an open jumper. His blend of size and agility makes him a nightmare for defenses.

Tatum still has some work to do to become a complete offensive player, but he showed flashes of a little bit of everything while at Duke. He is far from a reliable deep-range shooter, but did make a respectable 34% of his threes this year. He’s most comfortable shooting off the catch with space, but tends to struggle when defenders are able to contest his shot. He’s capable of hitting jumpers off the dribble, but he settles too often for difficult mid-range pull-ups. He’s still a streaky shooter, but makes enough to force the defense to respect his shot. Tatum also shows promise of a low-post game. He uses his size to post up smaller forwards and displays good footwork and touch around the rim. He can drop in a hook shot or turnaround jumper over either shoulder.

Where Tatum will struggle on offense at the next level is with his average quickness. He’s more of a smooth athlete than a quick-twitch one and can struggle to get all the way to the rim against quicker defenders. He doesn’t have a great first step and his handle is relatively basic, limiting his drive opportunities. Tatum lived off hitting tough shots at Duke and will need to adjust to the bigger, quicker NBA to score at a high rate. He lacks a certain level of consistency in his overall game. He has solid vision as a passer but isn’t always looking to make plays for others. Tatum did average 2.1 assists, but offset that with 2.6 turnovers per game.

Tatum also has potential to be a useful, versatile defender, but he’s still raw on that end of the floor. He has the length to contain perimeter players, but needs to improve his technique and discipline. He also has enough size to defend power forwards, which will allow teams to use him as a mismatch stretch-four. Despite his solid frame, Tatum was still susceptible to being overmatched by bigger forwards in the paint. He’ll need to improve his base to hold his own against NBA forwards. Despite his struggles, Tatum still collected 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, showing the capability to become a well-rounded defender.


Final Projection:

Jayson Tatum enters the NBA Draft as one of the more promising offensive scoring threats. Tatum is masterful in one-on-one situations, a key skill to have at the NBA level. His combination of size and athleticism makes him tough for defenders to manage. He can use his skill level to get past bigger players and his size to take on smaller players in the paint. Tatum does lack an elite level of quickness, which could hamper his ability to score as easily in the NBA. He will need to become more consistent as a jump shooter or passer to really open up his potential. Jayson Tatum should have little trouble being a shot-maker in the NBA, but will need to expand his game to reach the superstar level that he is capable of.