Although Jayson Tatum may have the most polished offensive game in the 2017 NBA Draft class, his skills are not a very good fit for the Philadelphia 76ers.
This season, the Philadelphia 76ers, for the first time in three years, showed some promise. They won their most games ever during “The Process,” and that was without their two best players most of the year. Next season, as long as everything goes accordingly, the team will be at full strength and ready to compete for a playoff spot.
What this means in regards to our draft focus is that we need someone that will be able to play a role on the team, not someone that needs game plans changed for them. Jayson Tatum is the kind of player that needs the focus of the offense to be around him in order to thrive, and quite frankly, that is not what the Sixers should be looking for.
The offense in Philadelphia will be run by point-forward Ben Simmons, and the first option will be Joel Embiid. Those two players are already set to have high usage, and they can not afford to bring in a third high-usage player. In college, Tatum’s usage rating was 26.2 percent, which is fairly high for a player that isn’t a point guard.
The role that the Sixers would ideally have him play would be off the ball stretching the court to open up play for Simmons and Embiid. This becomes an issue, however, because he is only a 34 percent 3-point shooter. Also, according to the video below, he scores 0.85 points per possession on catch and shoot jump shots, which only ranked in the 32nd percentile.
Not only does Tatum lack the ability to consistently knock down catch and shoot jump shots, but he also lacks the ability to knock down pull-up three pointers. At Duke, he shot a very poor nine percent on pull up three point shots out of the pick and roll. The pick and roll is a staple of the NBA game today, and is especially important in the 76ers offense, so this creates numerous issues.
Without being a threat from the 3-point line, defenses will quickly learn that they can go under on every screen without facing any consequences. Teams already utilize this technique with current point guard TJ McConnell, but he has found a way to succeed because he has other teammates on the court that can spread the floor for him.
Tatum is not a point guard, so being on the floor at the same time as McConnell would become an issue. It becomes a bigger issue when Ben Simmons is running the offense at the point guard position, because he also has major jump shooting struggles himself.
Another notable point made in the video above was that he really is not the most willing passer. When he catches the ball, he is more often than not going to look for ways to shoot it instead of making the right play. Quite honestly, he has the potential to become the Jahlil Okafor of forwards, which is a disaster waiting to happen.
Another issue with drafting Tatum would be that the team already has a plethora of solid contributors at his position. Tatum is best served as an NBA power forward, but he has played small forward most of his life. The 76ers currently have Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Ben Simmons, and Justin Anderson at the forward positions, which would create rotational issues.
Overall, Tatum needs to be the number one option in an offense to find success in the NBA, and he definitely would not be that on the Sixers. His isolation-heavy skill set would throw off the flow of the offense currently put into place by Brett Brown, and it would limit the production of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. He could easily become a 20 points per game player in the league, but his shortcomings should scare the Sixers away from taking him with the third pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.