Jayson Tatum on pace for greatest true shooting percentage of any rookie in NBA history
There is no doubt Jayson Tatum was the perfect fit for Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens’ system. GM Danny Ainge knew it, and despite having the first overall pick in his power, he traded down to the number three. Ainge knew Tatum would be available by then, and he was. You have probably heard people saying the rookie plays like a savvy veteran already. Probably his most underrated ability entering the 2017 NBA Draft was his shooting. With college stats provided by Basketball-Reference, Tatum shot 45.2 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc in 29 games played for Duke.
This season, as noted by StatMuse, Tatum’s current 62.5 true shooting percentage would be the highest mark for a rookie in NBA history (with at least 30 minutes per game played). True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account two-point field goals, three-point field goals, and free throws altogether. The shooting stats are also impressive: 51.7 percent on two-point attempts, 45.9 percent on threes, and 82.2 percent from the free throw line.
Looking at his shooting percentages by distance, Tatum shoots above 45 percent from zero to three feet away from the basket and from 10 feet and beyond. But between three to 10 feet from the hoop, he shoots only 28.3 percent. This looks unusual but his overall efficiency makes up for this low mark. Out of all his shots this season, only 11 percent come from that distance, so the poor shooting there is not too concerning.
Another aspect that jumps out of his shooting splits is the three-point stats. About one-fourth of Tatum’s threes come from the corners, and he is connecting on an impressive 57.1 percent of corner threes. His three-point shooting comes mostly from catch-and-shoot opportunities; 93.4 percent of his threes have been assisted by a teammate.
If Tatum continues his historically good shooting performances, he will soon have his name in the record books. He is another candidate for that Rookie of the Year award, even though a lot of people sleep on his production because he plays on a top team.