A five-part draft profile series begins with one of the late blooming stars of the 2016-2017 college basketball season, Duke forward, Jayson Tatum.
Profile: 6′ 8″ 205 Pounds. 19 years 2 months old from St. Louis Missouri.
Stats at Duke: 16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.1 APG. 45.2% Field Goal Percentage, 34.2% 3-Point Percentage, 84.2% Free Throw Percentage.
Tatum began the season on the injury list, after spraining his foot in a late October practice before Duke’s season even started. After missing the first eight games, Tatum scored in double figures in his first 12 games he played, including a 22 point outing against Florida and a 21 point performance against fellow ACC team Florida State.
Still, with Duke unable to find their form, Tatum’s stock stayed rather steady as December changed into January. Then, right as Duke started rounding into shape come mid January, Tatum began to shine. His breakout performance came in an offensively-challenged game in Charlottesville against the Virginia Cavaliers. A close game throughout, Tatum went off, hitting five three pointers in the second half leading Duke to a ten point victory on the road. He finished with a stat line of 28 points, 8 rebounds, 6/7 from three and 8/8 from the foul line.
Tatum continued on his tear throughout the ACC season, but when March Madness came, his play dipped. He struggled with fouls, playing with four in their first game and fouling out of their second. Not surprisingly with that dip, Duke bowed out of the NCAA tournament in the second round to cinderella final four team, South Carolina.
On March 24th, Tatum officially declared for the NBA draft after just one season at Duke, but there is no doubt that he is NBA ready. His head coach thinks so too.
“I absolutely loved coaching Jayson Tatum. His skill set and work ethic will make him a star in the NBA. Whichever team selects him will be getting a humble, thoughtful and talented young man,” said Mike Krzyzewski.
Strengths: Tatum has a decent post-up game that complements his ability to shoot and drive like a guard. He shoots the three pointer at a higher rate than his percentage. He is very consistent at the foul line, hitting a solid 84% for the season. Also, stands out on the court as a leader with an infectious personality.
Weaknesses: Not too many weaknesses for this guy. He might need to put on a little bit of size, and not settle for some of the contested jumpers. Also, he is not the quickest of athletes and foul trouble was a slight issue.
Player Comparison: Hybrid of Carmelo Anthony/Shane Battier. The way that Duke often cleared out and let Tatum work one-on-one reminded me a lot of Carmelo in the Knicks’ triangle offense. He might not shoot it as well as Melo, but he is streaky like him. The Shane Battier part is due to his personality and his solid defensive presence.
Draft Projection: Pick #3-7. Tatum’s draft position really depends on fit. He’s the second best wing player in this draft behind Kansas’ Josh Jackson. The Lakers, 76ers, Magic, Knicks, Kings should be picking around this area and all are in need of wing players. He will be well worth the selection, and would be shocked to see him slip out of the early-mid lottery.