Draft Projection: Top 10 Pick
Positives: Insider Only
Negatives: Insider Only
Summary: May 23 update: Tatum's scoring acumen and NBA readiness make him a popular prospect. Among NBA scouts and GMs in Chicago, he was actually the favorite to win Rookie of the Year in 2018. He just has to find the right fit.
Most scouts point to Boston as being the easiest fit for Tatum. Would the Celtics be willing to move down a few spots in a trade with a team like the 76ers to get him? I think the Celtics would want a lot more on top of the No. 3 pick to make that swap.
May 8 update: Tatum is a dark horse for the No. 1 pick. A handful of teams are considering him, though it's unlikely he'll get there.
For other teams, he's not even the best small forward in the draft.
Tatum also isn't expected to participate in the combine this week.
April 12 update: Tatum's late surge up draft boards has also put him in position to be a dark horse for the No. 1 pick. He's widely regarded by scouts as having the most NBA-ready game right now.
He is strong, scores from both the post and on the perimeter and plays with aggression. However, his ceiling is lower than that of the prospects ahead of him.
April 4 update: The Knicks will take a close look at Smith and Fox, if available. But they might also need a Carmelo Anthony replacement plan, and that's what Jayson Tatum looks like.
Melo seems checked out of the Knicks and might agree to waive his no-trade clause this summer. If he does, the Knicks could get a small forward here that some scouts believe is the best prospect in the draft.
March 22 update: Tatum has declared for the 2017 NBA Draft. Tatum has been one of the hottest prospects in the draft over the past month. He's an offensive monster who can take you off the drive, post you up and stretch the floor. His NBA body can allow him to punish smaller or less athletic prospects. His game looks more ready than most to be in the NBA. However, Tatum isn't without his warts. His 3-point shooting numbers are improved but still have a long way to go. And his lack of versatility has some scouts a little nervous. But there are other scouts and GMs who have him ranked No. 1 on their draft boards. Most likely he goes in the Nos. 3-6 range.
March 20 update: Tatum's stock was red-hot coming into the tournament, but he failed to make a stronger push when it mattered. He was awesome against Troy, scoring 18 points, grabbing 12 boards and getting four blocks and four steals. But he had a more muted impact against the strong, athletic forwards of South Carolina.
All in all, he looks as if he has worked his way into the top five, but I don't think he did enough to surpass Fultz, Ball or Jackson.
March 14 update: No one on this board has had a better week than Tatum. He has moved up four spots in our top 100 from No. 8 to No. 4. He's peaking at the exactly the right time.
In front of lots of NBA scouts in Brooklyn he led Duke to an ACC conference title, averaging 22 PPG in the tournament and showing off a number of pro moves in his one-one-one game.
His ability to get his own shot, elite athleticism and NBA body have scouts drooling. His 3-point shot is still a question mark (he shot 3-for-15 from deep during the ACC tourney) but if Tatum keeps playing like this the rest of March and leads Duke deep, he'll get some looks at the very top of the draft.
March 6 update: Tatum has all the physical tools to be a dominant NBA 3. Shooting remains the biggest question mark for him.
Tatum makes nearly 60 percent of his shots at the rim. However, things get a little sketchier as he moves away from the basket. He got on a hot streak as a shooter in mid-February, going 12-for-19 from 3 in a three-game stretch before regressing to the mean and hitting only three of his next 16 3s.
His 2-point jump shooting is essentially on par with his 3-point game (36 percent from the field). Some scouts feel Tatum has good enough mechanics to improve that area of his game.
Feb. 1 update: Tatum is posting strong numbers as a freshman and seems to be taking a bigger role for Duke. He had perhaps his best game of the year on Monday, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 boards against Notre Dame.
He's athletic, strong and a skilled scorer, but his 29 percent 3-point shooting is a major red flag.
Dec. 22 update: Tatum missed the first eight games of the season for Duke with an ankle injury, but he seems no worse for the wear. He had a dominant coming-out party against Florida in early December when he put his elite midrange and post game on full display.
Scouts are still waiting to see if he can make the transition to being a reliable 3-point shooter, though. He's 4-for-15 from deep so far.
Nov 5 Update: Tatum was ranked higher than Jackson coming into his senior year of high school, but scouts were disappointed that the smooth, versatile forward didn't develop a lethal 3-point game. He still thrives primarily in the midrange.
That said, he was drawing rave reviews in Duke's practices before injuring his foot at a pro day in front of NBA scouts. It looks like he'll be out only a couple of weeks. Before he got injured, scouts were more impressed than when they saw him last at the Nike Hoop Summit.
"He's the prototypical sort of wing you look for in the NBA," one GM said. "He plays the game effortlessly, but I mean that in a good way. The game is easy for him.
"I want to see him stretch his game on the perimeter more. He could be a little less selfish with the ball. My guys really like him and think he'll be a top-five pick."
Aug 23 Update: Tatum is a prototypical NBA small forward on just about every metric but one: He doesn't have a great 3-point shot yet. Most of his damage is done in the midrange. Given the Pelicans' current lineup, he would be a long-term upgrade at the 3.
Aug 4 Update: A number of teams have Tatum ranked in their top five, and he could easily end up there with a strong freshman season. He's versatile, has an aggressive knack for scoring and has prototypical size for his position.
His lack of a 3-point shot (most of his work is done in the midrange game), lack of great defensive effort and lack of court vision all are working against him, though. Modern wings that don't pass or shoot 3s aren't particularly the rage right now, so I'm a little skeptical.
Apr 10 Update: Tatum has some real appeal. He has elite size for his position and an NBA body. He totally looks the part of an elite NBA wing the same way someone such as Rudy Gay or Harrison Barnes does. He has a refined midrange game, gets out into passing lanes on defense and is a beast in transition.
But it feels like there's something missing with Tatum. His lack of a consistent 3-point shot is part of it, but there's also something about his cool demeanor that turns scouts off just a little as well.
Everyone I spoke with said he is a future NBA player, but no one said that it's obvious he'll be a star in the NBA -- thus he's ranked a little lower here than on most recruiting boards.