NBA Draft Player Breakdown: Jayson Tatum

Leading up to the NBA Draft we will be analyzing scouting reports for various players who have entered their name in this year’s NBA Draft.  The focus of these articles will be on prospects who we find most intriguing and feel readers need to become more familiar with.  Please let us know if you want any players specifically @edupridepress.  All stats and videos are via KenPom, ESPN, DraftExpress, and YouTube.


Jayson Tatum – SF – Freshman – Duke

Height: 6’8”

Weight: 204 lbs

Age: 19 years, 3 months

Projected: 3 (DraftExpress) 5 (CPP Big Board) 4 (CPP Mock Draft)


Background: Coming into Duke ranked #3 on the 2016 ESPN 100, Jayson Tatum was part of the nation’s best recruiting class this past year. After a minor setback at the beginning of the season due to a foot injury, Jayson Tatum made his college debut slightly later than anticipated. After a slow start to his collegiate career, Jayson Tatum exploded and caught the attention of basketball fans everywhere. Tatum immediately stepped into a leadership role for the Blue Devils and was second in scoring for the team. The young forward saw an early exit in the NCAA Tournament this past season and averaged 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two tournament games. Over the course of the season, Tatum stood out as one of the best freshman in the country. He averaged 16.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and shot 50.4% from the floor in about 33 minutes a game. His durability and ability to explode through traffic has made him a Top 5 prospect for the draft this year and will make his wait on draft night very short lived. Jayson Tatum did not participate in the NBA Combine and has not been seen by NBA personnel as a whole since mid March. Since then, Tatum has worked out for multiple teams picking inside the Top 10 and is projected to be a Top 5 pick in this year’s draft!


Strengths: Jayson Tatum owned the court this past season at Duke when in isolation. His ability to create his own space and shot is something that cannot be taught and proves he is a natural scorer. According to Synergy Sports Technology, nearly 25% of his possessions came from an isolation set for Tatum. Standing 6’8” with a near 7’0” wingspan, Tatum was a mismatch nightmare for defenders. His long frame allowed him to shoot over smaller defenders and his speed allowed him to blow past slower defenders. Having very light feet allow Tatum to explode off one foot and drive down the lane with ease. Under pressure, Jayson Tatum is not one to hesitate. This past season at Duke, Tatum was the go-to guy when the Blue Devils needed a basket or needed to maintain their lead. He saw lots of big moments and did not appear to look nervous at any point. His lust of confidence is something lots of NBA personnel like and will help him when battling more experienced players through the course of an 82 game season. Tatum’s playmaking ability and footwork is way beyond what scouts would like to see in a 19 year old prospect, giving him an edge over others in the draft playing a similar role on the floor. There really is not much Tatum cannot do offensively and is very effective no matter where he is on the floor offensively. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Jayson Tatum shot 40.5% on unguarded catch-and-shoot shots from beyond the arc this past season. Although he may not be atop of a lot of teams draft boards for best player in the draft, Jayson Tatum may very well be the best offensive player in the draft and can consistently give his team 10+ points a game.


Weaknesses: Although Tatum does not turn the ball over a lot (2.6 turnovers/game last season), he is very loose with his ball handling and is not as consistent as others. He tends to dribble more with his dominant hand and does not prefer to drive to his non-dominant side. When facing a solid defender, Tatum will try to do too much with his dribble and is susceptible to having the ball poked away. As for being a complete passer, Tatum has made progress and it looks optimistic that he can become a solid passer, Tatum still struggles at time with his decision making. He is so offensive minded and score first mentality that he sometimes keeps the ball in his hands more than feeding it to a teammate. As a result, Tatum seeks out passes that are not there and forces risky passes down into the post. His passing has gotten better and is still developing, but it does not make him a scoring and passing threat yet. Defensively, Tatum does not shown weaknesses except in the post. He struggles with not engaging the offensive player far away enough from the hoop and is not always spotted in an athletic stance. Although this may not be a weakness, Tatum is always developing and continuing to build body strength. His lower body strength is an area of focus for him and something that Tatum would like to improve upon this summer. With time, Tatum could develop into a very quick, big, and exception two way wing player in the NBA.


Comparison: Harrison Barnes – F – Mavericks    

Ceiling: Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony

There are a lot of comparisons and different play styles being thrown out here! Coming into the league, I expect Jayson Tatum to look a lot like Harrison Barnes did this past season with the Mavericks. As a role playing wing for the Mavs, Barnes averaged 19.2 PPG and shot 35.1% from deep. His ability to cut through traffic and beat smaller wings in isolation makes him dangerous from mid-range. Much like how Barnes creates space, Tatum examines where his defender is an adjusts his shot accordingly. Tatum will be an excellent wing in his rookie season and will be talked about as they best scoring rookie this next season. In the next few years, if Tatum can make the adjustments mentioned above, he can become a player like Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony were. Both were excellent offensive players and both had lots of offensive tools. Whether it was driving to the rim or settling for a mid range, both Melo and “The Truth” were deadly with the ball in their hands. I would not be surprised if Tatum becomes the next Paul Pierce/Carmelo in the NBA.


Be sure to check out our other Top 30 Breakdowns and NBA Draft Charts:

CPP NBA Draft Big Board 5.0

CPP NBA Mock Draft 4.0

Brett Siegel
I am currently a sophomore at The University of Louisville, majoring in Sports Administration and minoring in Communication. This is my second year being the lead NBA Draft Analyst for CPP and writer for Louisville Basketball. I am a huge sports fan that loves college basketball and watching the players transition from the college court to the big stage in the NBA! If you have any questions or comments, my email is