NBA Draft: Duke's Jayson Tatum is the do-it-all prospect teams will covet
With another double-double, Tatum is the NBA prospect everyone is talking about
Another game, another double-double for Jayson Tatum on Friday in Duke’s 87-65 win over Troy. But lots of players put up double-doubles in Round 1 (SMU’s Semi Ojeleye, Baylor’s Johnathan Motley and others). So why is Tatum the one everybody keeps talking about?
One reason is the versatility of Tatum’s offensive skills. Against Troy, he repeatedly showed in the post, taking advantage of his NBA strength to find position. He also displayed quickness to find his way around taller defenders once he got the ball. Think of Carmelo Anthony, who has been most effective as a four in the new, smaller NBA. Paul George, too. But unlike George, Tatum looks entirely comfortable in the role.
That matters because Tatum is equally comfortable as a secondary distributor and creator on the wing. Tatum’s 3-point shot looks NBA-ready. Although his 33.6 percent accuracy from deep isn’t ideal, both his smooth mechanics and the 85.4 percent he’s shooting from the free-throw line indicate a likelihood of Tatum becoming a truly dangerous 3-point shooter. He’ll need to be a threat from deep to provide his new team with a true first option on offense.
Then there’s the advantage Tatum has playing for Duke. He’s going to get the national spotlight for every game he plays, and a strong supporting cast gives him a chance to play deep into the tournament and show scouts the ability to work within a larger offensive framework that includes a variety of options, from bigs like Harry Giles and Amile Jefferson to perimeter threats Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen.
But even within that talented group, Tatum has asserted himself as the primary option, with a 26.3 percent usage rate. And the reason is simple: whatever opposing defenses are giving up? Jayson Tatum can do it.
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