Hoop Nerd – Dissecting Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum, 19 year old rookie, plays like a 10 year veteran. Let’s take a closer look at how and why Tatum is excelling so early in his career.

It’s the little things that count.

Jayson Tatum is currently leading the league in 3 point shooting percentage at 52.3%. Al-Farouq Aminu is second with 34 less attempts. The closest guy to Tatum in terms of attempts AND percentage is Tony Snell at 82 attempts and 47.6%. So Tatum is 5 percentage points higher and shooting more often. How is he accomplishing this?

Let’s take a look at 3 pointer from the win over the Pistons:

Watch how Tatum creates extra space by taking a step to his left as he’s catching the ball. He starts moving to the left before he even has full control of the pass, anticipating the space that he’ll need to get the open look.

Against Milwaukee Tatum was 4-5 from behind the arc, his only miss being a forced end of the first half heave.

On this three Tatum not only utilized a perfect shot fake but then took not one but two steps to the side to create extra space.

Watch Tatum drift back behind the arc after setting the screen here:

These are not things you’re average or even above average rookie does in his first 25 games in the pros. Most rooks are ball watchers, they’re seeing the game as it happens and reacting. Tatum is anticipating, finding the open spots before he gets the ball. When he has the ball, his moves are about creating space between himself and the defender but in the most efficient way. He’s not pounding the ball, trying to dribble into an open shot, he’s taking one extra step after a pump fake to create those extra inches that turn a contested shot into an open look.

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