Jayson Tatum: Is He The Best Small Forward In the 2017 NBA Draft?

Jayson Tatum is an athletic small forward with length. Unofficially listed at 6’ 8” 205 lbs. He’s an NBA Draft prospect that can attack off the dribble, knock down the jumper, create his shot from the post, rebound at his position, get up and down in transition, defend and knock down his free throws. Two of the biggest knocks on his game: Turnover prone and long-range accuracy.

A forward with the ability to slash. Will use a rip/sweep through, jab steps and head fakes off the isolation face up. Good ball handling skills. Capable of keeping defenders off balanced. Can attack off the straight line. Can change direction and gears with spin moves, hesitations, in and outs and crossovers. Draws fouls when putting ball on the floor. Can get into the paint. Capable of finding shooters/teammates after drawing the defense. Can get to the basket. Solid hang time and body control in the air to change shot or attempt acrobatic field goals. Capable of using his left around the basket but he relies heavily on his right hand to finish lay ups around the rim. Can absorb contact. Capable of drawing fouls on field goal attempts around the rim…Off the ball he has the ability to finish play when teammates find him cutting or at the basket.

Tatum can knock down a jumper. He can hit shots off the dribble, hand offs or the catch and shoot. A reliable shooter from midrange. Capable of creating space off the face up with head fakes, quick jab steps, crossovers and step backs. Can get to the baseline, either elbow/elbow extended area for the one dribble pull up…He can also hit from down town but this part of his game can use some accuracy improvement. He took a total of 117 three-point attempts but connected on 40 of those tries.

He can create his shot in the post. Can attack from the low block. He has the ability to play with his back to basket or attack off the turn and face. Capable of knocking down the one-legged turn around fade away off the back down dribble. Good footwork. Solid ability to change shot direction to set up fade away. Can get to the rim with a fluid and quick baseline spin off defender…Quick jab and first step off the turn and face to set up jumper or drive to basket. Can get into paint for the floater/ push shot.

Solid rebounder at the small forward slot. Solid on the defensive end. He averaged 6 defensive rebounds per game. He doesn’t always box his man out but he’s able to grab boards off of being in the right place at the right time or his sheer athleticism. He averaged 1.3 offensive boards per game. Capable of cleaning up missed field goal attempts with the flush.

A good overall defender. He has the athleticism, length and body strength to be a top notch in this area of his game. The effort is there when fighting through screens or sliding feet to stay in front of herky-jerky ball handlers. He’ll contest jumpers. Has the athleticism to recover at times when he gets beat on closeouts or after leaving his feet on shot fakes. Capable of blocking shots (transition and half court) from behind or as a rotation help defender. Capable of picking pockets and poking balls loose. He averaged 1. 3 steals per game…Has some hustle to his game. Not afraid to chase down and dive for loose balls.

Jayson can get up and down in transition. A scoring threat when he’s pushing on the break, leaking out ahead of the pack, or filling the lanes.

A forward with good transition ball handling skills. He has the ability to push on the break. A rebound and go type of forward. His handle is reliable enough to allow him to do so or turn defense into fast break offense. Can change directions and gears on the go with hesitations, in and outs and crossovers. Can get into the paint. Decent footwork that allows him to side step defenders and get to the basket. A forward that can go end to end. An athlete that can finish above the rim with athletic flushes; decent set of springs. But often will choose to finish beneath the rim. Favors finishing with his right hand…He’s also of capable creating for and finding teammates on the break.

He’ll leak out and finish ahead of the pack. When teammates find him up court; after a rebound, block or steal he has the ability to put ball on the floor and get to the basket for the finish… Also capable of finding his teammates leaking out as well.

He’ll fill the lanes and finish plays as a trailer. A solid target for teammate to find him cutting down the middle. He can get to the basket for the finish off the catch. Capable of drawing fouls. Capable of finishing through contact. He also has the ability to get up and finish the lob pass with a flush.

How he can contribute at the next level:

  • Rebound
  • Defend
  • Attack off the dribble
  • Will knock down mid range jumpers and sometimes the long ball.
  • Gets up and down in transition
  • Will knock down his foul shots


  • Potential
  • Rebounding at position
  • Reliable from the stripe
  • Build/physique/strength

Areas for improvement/Weakness/Question Marks:

  • Turnover prone
  • Long Range accuracy


  • Born: 3/3/1998
  • Hometown: St. Louis
  • 2016 McDonald’s All American
  • Third Team All ACC: 2016- 2017
  • ACC All Freshman Team: 2016-2017