Jae'Sean Tate RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 6-4 / 1.93
Weight:230 lbs. / 104.3 kg.
Height: 6-4 / 1.93
Weight:230 lbs. / 104.3 kg.
In addition to Houston’s most-whispered names, Victor Oladipo and PJ Tucker, team executives polled by B/R are also curious whether the Rockets will look to move supporting players deeper in their rotation. They’re specifically eyeing Houston’s cadre of athletic, two-way wings like Danuel House Jr., Ben McLemore, Sterling Brown and Jae’Sean Tate. “I keep hearing they’re going to fire-sale,” said a rival scout. “Houston’s gonna burn the house down,” said another assistant general manager.
Tate’s play has been strong enough not just to start at both forward positions, but at 6-foot-4, to be among their smallball center options. “I’ve been like a smallball center since I was at Ohio State,” Tate said. “I’ve been comfortable my whole life being undersized but having to play that position. It works. Our communication still needs to improve. That’s one thing we’ve been trying to work on. With that, I think our defense will do what it needs to do.”
Can you take me back to the 2018 NBA Draft? What’s your mindset heading into that evening, and how does it change throughout the course of the event? Jae’Sean Tate: There were a couple of teams that reached out and said I was second or third [option] of the guys that they were thinking about picking. If those guys were still available, then of course they were going to take them. So going in, I knew there was going to be maybe a small percentage chance that I could get picked up. But ultimately I knew that it probably wasn’t going to happen. After that, I definitely thought that there were going to be opportunities with two-ways and after-the-draft signings but that’s just not how it worked. That’s just not how it worked out. Luckily Milwaukee ended up bringing me to Summer League. I had broken my finger and had to go to Belgium on a tryout. That first year they thought that I wasn’t gonna be able to play the four with the size and the struggle of outside shooting I had in college, and there I just figured it out. I started thriving and figured out getting more confidence in my shot and, you know, I hit the ground running from there.
Did going undrafted ever give you any doubt about your potential in the NBA? Was there ever any doubt that you would eventually come over to the NBA? Jae’Sean Tate: I don’t think that it was doubt. It’s still surreal for me. I mean, like, it’s still surreal for me. This doesn’t happen. Like people dream with this opportunity and that’s exactly what it was. Everything that needed to happen and at the time it needed to happen, happened for me. Whether it’s half of our team not being able to travel because of COVID which means I have to play, things like that. I always knew that if I got the opportunity, I felt that I was going to be able to make the best of it. It was just that if the opportunity had came and literally by the grace of God, things started happening at the perfect time. And then the NBA started trending into small ball and I fit that mode and you know, PJ [Tucker] and Draymond [Green] and, and guys like that kind of opened that door. That’s just the way teams are trending and how the game is trending.
I want to ask you about Belgium, your first stop in your professional career. What was your first culture shock moment? Being overseas and in a new environment, how was that for you? Jae’Sean Tate: I’ll just say fresh off the plane, just the airport. I probably saw one obese person my whole time in Belgium. Like everybody was just healthy and skinny and they don’t eat big breakfasts, that was a big culture shock. Like we were having salami and cheese for breakfast. That American breakfast is not real in Europe and some places. But other than that, man, nah, I got lucky. Belgium is a very diverse place to live. Everybody spoke English, everybody spoke like three, four languages. I lived right downtown. If you know Belgium, they don’t really have — they have an identity, but it’s just like a big stirring pot. You got middle Eastern, you got people [from] Netherlands, you’ve got people that speak French, there’s a lot of African cultures there. Like there’s just everything and downtown there’s just any street you walk on, there’s just different places to eat — the food is amazing. The people are very nice and like I love Belgium.
So why is Tate such a huge part of this new Rockets tapestry, after just 20 games into a new season? When glancing at the leaderboard for Rookie of the Year, Tate’s numbers won’t jump off the page. He’s averaging a modest 8.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He has nearly twice as many turnovers (27) as he does assists (16). Look a bit deeper, though, and you see the early strides. His outside shooting, the biggest red flag about his skillset, started off poor (shot just 28.6 percent in December) but has since improved — 34.6 percent in January, 37.5 percent this month. There are also the parts of his game that are so unrookie-like, like his cutting efficiency. Tate is scoring a whopping 1.67 points per possession on such plays, good for the 97th percentile.
Defensively, however, his impact is clear. Per Cleaning of the Glass, the Rockets defend a whole 7.5 points better with him on the floor versus off it. Their defensive rating jumps from 99.6 when he plays to 110.6 when he doesn’t. He already has 53 fouls on the year but that’s because he’s actively seeking challenges and refusing to back down.