Jayson Tatum worst shooter in league from his favorite spot on floor, per eye-opening graphic

John Tomase
January 30, 2019 - 3:58 pm

It is accepted NBA wisdom that the least productive shot in the game is the long 2-pointer. Retreat a couple of feet into 3-point territory, and the shot's value increases by 50 percent. Drive to the basket, and the odds of scoring soar.

Jayson Tatum often operates in the NBA's dead zone, however, and an eye-opening graphic illustrates just how misguided he is.

ESPN's Kirk Goldsberry, who years ago made a name for himself with heat-zone graphics that illustrate where a shooter excels or struggles (his research revealed, for instance, that noted bricklayer Rajon Rondo was actually one of the best elbow shooters in the NBA for years), just posted the following graphic identifying the worst shooters in the league for every zone on the floor.

Your eyes aren't deceiving you: Tatum is the worst shooter in the league at one of his favorite spots on the floor. He's shooting just 22 percent on midrange jumpers from beyond the right elbow.

Watch one quarter of one Celtics game, and odds are good you'll see Tatum seek mid-range jumpers in one of three ways: (1) upfake a 3-pointer, take one dribble as the defender flies by, and pull up from about 18 feet; (2) in isolation after a series of between-the-legs dribbles; (3) on the catch.

In the first instance, he'd be better off either driving a clear lane to the hoop or stepping sideways for the open 3-pointer. In the second, he should probably give up the ball and reset the offense, unless the shot clock is expiring. The third is the least egregious, as long as he's catching the ball in rhythm, but also the least common (just 1.8 percent of his attempts, per NBA.com).

The numbers further bear this out. Last year, Tatum shot .429 on 2-point jumpers from beyond 16 feet. This year, that percentage has fallen to .361. He's better at the rim (.706 vs. .630), a product of his improved strength and ball-handling, and he's better from inside 10 feet (.347 vs. .263), but he's worse on jumpers and 3-pointers, the latter of which he's converting at a .381 clip after last year's suprising .409 debut.

All of that said, Tatum has taken a step forward in his second season, averaging 16.2 points per game. But with improved shot selection, he could be even better.