Boston Celtics rookie forward Jayson Tatum is one of the most exciting young players in the league, and he’s already an elite spot-up shooter.
A spot-up shooter will run to a specific spot on the floor, catch the ball and then immediately shoot. Usually, these players will be either open (closest defender within four to six feet away) or wide open (closest defender greater than six feet away) for the attempt.
It can be a hard transition from being the No. 1 option for an offense to someone who focuses on just one aspect of the game.
But it’s exactly what was required once they lost injured Gordon Hayward. In a recent report, Brian Robb provided further context (via Boston Sports Journal):
“The Celtics needed to find someone to hit all those open corner 3s that [Avery] Bradley, [Jae] Crowder and company knocked down last year and it wasn’t clear early on who could be counted on to step up and do it when Kyrie Irving kicked the ball out from the lane. The issue became even more pressing when the team’s best wing shooter went down. Boston looked like they were going to have to make a move for a shooter on the wing and they still might need to upgrade there at some point before the year is over.”
The Celtics have run 654 spot-up possessions so far this season, which is the sixth-most among all teams. They have also scored 677 points when calling spot-up plays on offense, which is the fourth-most in the league.
Boston has identified that Tatum thrives in this role. Tatum spots up on 34.8 percent of possessions, via NBA.com.
Among those with at least 87 spot-up possessions, he averages a league-best 1.22 points per possession. He has scored 143 points on spot-up possessions, which ranks Top 5 among all players.
His 48.5 field goal percentage and 63.6 percent effective field goal percentage on this play type are both the best in the league among all players with as many spot-up possessions.
Similarly, Tatum is shooting 57.4 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers — the best among all players with as many attempts. His effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot attempts (82.6 percent) is by far the best among those with as many attempts as well.
He is also shooting 60 percent on wide-open three-pointers, which is the best among those with as many attempts as he has had this season. He is shooting 48.3 percent on open three-openers, which is Top 5 among those with as many attempts.
Tatum has the best accuracy in the NBA (81.8 percent) among those who have as many three-point attempts from the right corner so far this season. He has missed just two three-pointers from that area during his professional career.
Not only is he a valuable shooter from beyond the arc, but as noted by A. Sherrod Blakely, he’s also a dynamic rebounder.
Among those who have ever taken at least 33 attempts from long range in a season, he is one of just three players to average more than 13 points and 5 rebounds per game with a three-point percentage above 47 percent. The other two players are Joe Johnson (2004-05) and Detlef Schrempf (1994-95).
If he continues to play like this, expect him to develop into one of the game’s best shooters.