Tatum currently has the 2nd highest three-point percentage ever for a rookie. Can he keep it up?
It’s almost laughable at this point to think there were concerns about Jayson Tatum’s shooting last summer going into the draft. Although he scored at a .452 clip from the field and a respectable 342 shooting percentage from deep in his one year in college that he was 18-years old during most of, many scouts still believed the Duke product might run into problems transitioning to NBA range. Leading the league in three-point percentage for almost the whole first half of games this year, the Boston Celtics rookie put any doubts to bed pretty fast.
Shooting .341 from long-range throughout the month of January though, Tatum did start slumping heading into the All-Star break especially for his standards. Not connecting on as many three-pointers and not shooting, in general, as often, #0 didn’t seem completely engaged at times.
Whether it was the time off from the very hectic NBA schedule that he’s probably still acclimating to or some much needed extra practices for the team, the once-leading Rookie of the Year candidate looks engaged again. Still standing at 6th-best in the league from deep after his slump as he turned just 20 years old yesterday (Happy birthday, JT!!), #0 looks like he’s starting to get back into a groove from long-distance.
Knocking down both three-balls he attempted yesterday, Tatum’s three-percentage now sits at .439, good enough for the second-best clip from long-range as a rookie in NBA history.
On his 20th birthday, Jayson Tatum made his 81st and 82nd 3's of his rookie year, which means he'll qualify for both the league lead and the NBA rookie record. pic.twitter.com/ddn0KK4gNJ
Some could point out that three of the names on the list noted above in Celtics radio announcer Sean Grande’s tweet are pretty underwhelming in terms of suggesting there’s a correlation between how high your rookie three-point percentage is and how good a player you’ll be.
Yes, there’s that (Stephen) Curry guy on there too who we’d all love to see Tatum parallel any kind of career success with. But rather than focus on how the players on the list have ended up personally, what stands out most to me is the positions they play and type of players they are.
Everyone else on that list, besides JT, plays guard and is 6’5” or shorter (Michael Dickerson and Anthony Morrow tied for the tallest of the rest). Regardless of how some of their careers panned out, I think more than anything that list suggests a 6’9” forward has no business being a part of it.
In a league trending towards players of all sizes being able to knock down shots from outside, fans should expect more players in the likeness of Tatum in this group down the road. Although he might not be leading the ROTY race or even land in the top three anymore (Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markannen - in my opinion), being the first representation of the new transition in the league, especially on lists like this, isn’t a bad consolation prize to have.
Tatum’s unique combination of length and shot-making should boast well for him down the line this year if fans hope to see him keep this pace up. Sure, big men naturally have harder times developing consistency from long-range but the former Dukie isn’t what you’d typically deem a “big man” despite his 6’9” frame.
Playing more out of that Kevin Durant-Rudy Gay-etc long-swingman breed, or mold, opposing teams have gone to smaller quicker defenders to matchup with Tatum’s speed and shot-creating ability. This might have had a hand in his slump but as seen recently, coach Brad Stevens has been trying to find more ways to incorporare the rookie’s outside game and with some success.
As he’s been a relatively conservative shooter for most of the season anyway (he is a rookie after all), it seems Stevens and the team are finding new ways for the youngin to still get good looks despite his rather, small output some games. Although he only took seven shots last night, he was still able to get 12 points as he knocked down both three attempts as previously mentioned. If things continue back in the right direction for the 20-year old Celtic, expect to see Jayson Tatum still on that all-time rookie three-point percentage list.