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Where does Jayson Tatum rank among Duke’s recent one-and-done greats?

 

Duke has embraced the sea of change in college basketball recruiting — created by the NBA’s one-and-done rule — better than almost everyone. The Blue Devils will certainly produce multiple first-round picks in this June’s draft. The first off the board, though, will be freshman Jayson Tatum.

One of Duke’s archetypes of this era has been a hybrid forward. This is a player with a utility belt full of skills who projects into the NBA ranks as a small forward but, in Duke’s motion offense, functions as the team’s nominal 4. Jabari Parker was the first in 2014; he was followed by Justise Winslow in 2015. Brandon Ingram was the next iteration in 2016. Now, it is Jayson Tatum.

Tatum will be a top-five pick, which will make it the fourth straight year that a freshman swingman from Duke goes in the top 10 of the draft. Parker and Ingram were both selected No. 2 overall.

With all of that talent, why not have a little fun and see which player had the largest overall offensive impact when at Duke? Let’s dig in.

 

Long-range shooting

 3P%3PA/Game3PA-rateCatch-and-shoot %Catch-and-shoot PPP
Jabari Parker35.8%3.021.2%40.9%1.18
Justise Winslow41.8%2.830.9%41.5%1.25
Brandon Ingram41.0%5.440.3%42.4%1.25
Jayson Tatum34.2%4.032.1%34.6%1.03

This category belongs to Ingram — a skinny 6-9 shooter. During his lone season at Duke, Ingram launched 5.4 three-pointers per game; over 40 percent of his field-goal attempts were from distance. He connected on a sizzling 41 percent of those bombs, too.

Winslow was a quiet assassin shooting the ball in Durham as well. Both Winslow and Ingram scored 1.25 points per possession on catch-and-shoots, according to Synergy Sports. However, Ingram, who shot a higher percentage in this play type, chucked far more than his facsimiles. He launched 170 catch-and-shoots playing alongside Grayson Allen in 2015-16. Winslow was the only other player to attempt more that 90 catch-and-shoots. Neither player has found much footing in the NBA as a shooter, though. Expect that to change with Ingram.

Tatum finished the season with a 34.2 percent clip on threes, which is about average. He did, however, heat up as the year went by. In ACC play, Tatum shot 37.5 percent on three-pointers, per KenPom.

Winner: Brandon Ingram

 

Playmaking

 Assists/GameAssist RateIso Pass FG%Iso Pass PPPPNR Pass FG%PNR Pass PPP
Jabari Parker1.28.6%53.8%1.575%1.4
Justise Winslow2.113.2%50%1.3650%1.18
Brandon Ingram2.011.4%54.5%1.2756.7%1.32
Jayson Tatum2.112.2%31.3%0.7853.3%1.25

Duke likes to spread the floor with shooters and share the sugar on offense. In the last four seasons, the Blue Devils have ranked inside the top 40 nationally in assists three times, according to Sports Reference. The lone exception: the 2015-16 team that played pick-and-roll tick-tack-toe with Ingram and Allen. Per KenPom, Duke has ranked inside the top six nationally in offensive efficiency in all four of those seasons.

Tatum, Ingram and Winslow all posted assist rates above 11 percent, which is strong. Parker ranks at the bottom of the list in assist volume and percentage; however, his teammates feasted when he was a passer in isolation and pick-and-roll. These efficiency marks — for example, 1.5 points per possession when a passer is in isolation — are outstanding.

This past season, Tatum really started to find his groove as a distributor in the final 11 games; his passing brilliance was on display at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn, including a no-look dime to Matt Jones that had my jaw collecting dust on the floor at Barclays Center. Ingram was a better creator than he got credit for as well.

Winslow, however, takes the cake here — narrowly edging out Ingram. The lone lefty posted the highest assister rate — 13.2 percent — and recorded the most assists per 100 possessions: 4.4.

Winner: Justise Winslow

 

Shot-creation

There is a lot to debrief here, so pardon the parsing. The single most important thing in basketball is the ability to make shots; therefore, this will be split into a couple subcategories: isolation, pick-and-roll ball handler, pick-and-roll roll man, transition, cutter.

 IsolationPNR BHPNR RMTransitionCut
Jabari Parker0.81 PPP, 35.4 FG%1.0 PPP, 50 FG%0.88 PPP, 40 FG%1.24 PPP, 63.3 FG%1.22 PPP, 64.1 FG%
Justise Winslow0.74 PPP, 31.6 FG%0.61 PPP, 43.5 FG%1.0 PPP, 40 FG%1.16 PPP, 62.3 FG%0.94 PPP, 47.2 FG%
Brandon Ingram0.94 PPP, 44.7 FG%0.72 PPP, 31.8 FG%0.64 PPP, 30 FG%1.17 PPP, 54.5% FG%0.78 PPP, 43.8 FG%
Jayson Tatum0.88 PPP, 43.2 FG%0.68 PPP, 27.8 FG%1.1 PPP, 43.8 FG%1.09 PPP, 50 FG%1.03 PPP, 55.2 FG%

Isolation

Working with less talent around him, Ingram was the top isolation scorer. He posted the best overall efficiency in this play type — 0.94 points per possession — and the lowest turnover rate (7.7 percent). The dude got buckets — period.

Winner: Brandon Ingram

Pick-and-roll ball-handler

Ingram ran more pick-and-rolls than any of these guys at Duke — 67 in total. Aside from Ingram, only Winslow ran more than 40. Both Tatum and Ingram struggled to shoot out of the pick-and-roll; Winlsow and Parker did not. Winslow, however, turned the ball over 34.9 percent of the time when he handled it — a truly miserable clip.

Parker, on a much smaller number of possessions, get the edge. He shot the best percentage and, per Synergy, drew a shooting foul 16.7 percent of the time — the best of this group.

Winner: Jabari Parker

Pick-and-roll, roll man

Tatum was the only player of this quartet to record 20-plus possessions as both a ball-handler in pick-and-rolls and also a roll man. He was also clearly the most proficient in that action. He made nearly 44 percent of these attempts and drew a ton of shooting fouls, too.

Winner: Jayson Tatum

Transition

All four of these guys got the job done in transition, but Parker is too much in this category. He scored more points per possession and shot a higher percentage than all of his counterparts. If you remember the one-man-freight-train slams he used to throw down in Cameron Indoor Stadium, or are aware of his reputation as one of the top transition scorers in the NBA, then this is confirmation bias.

Winner: Jabari Parker

Cutter

Again, Parker was the best here, too. He was one of the best cutters in all of Division I basketball while at Duke, and that has carried over to the professional ranks. Parker is one of the NBA’s top cutters — a wildly useful skill playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Winner: Jabari Parker

 

Rebounds

 Reb/GameORB%DRB%Put-back FG%Put-back PPP
Jabari Parker8.711.4%23.1%50.0%1.13
Justise Winslow6.55.5%19.8%62.5%1.15
Brandon Ingram6.86.1%15.4%51.9%1.06
Jayson Tatum7.34.8%19.7%55.6%0.86

This is another interesting category. All four of these guys could sky above traffic and snag some of the most ferocious rebounds you have ever seen. Duke turned a corner in each of the last three seasons when the coaching staff downsized, took the second traditional big man off the court and let Winslow, Ingram and Tatum feast as small-ball power forwards. The 2015 team won 11 of its final 12 games en route to the championship after moving Amile Jefferson to the bench and starting Winslow at the 4.

The pride of Chicago prevails in this category, though. Parker was a menace on the glass and posted — of this group — easily the best rebounding percentages. Parker, who grabbed 11.4 percent of the available offensive rebounds while on the floor, knew what to do with it once he got the ball, scoring 1.13 points per possession on putbacks, per Synergy.

Tatum would have posted a higher efficiency metric on putbacks if not for a ghastly turnover percentage. According to Synergy, Tatum shot nearly 56 percent on putbacks but turned the ball over on 28.6 percent of those possessions, which bogged down his overall efficiency.

Winner: Jabari Parker

 

Post game

 Post-up PPPPost-up FG%Pass out of Post-up PPPPass out of Post-up FG%
Jabari Parker1.0655.4%1.3550%
Justise Winslow0.9352.2%1.1350%
Brandon Ingram0.8545%2.280%
Jayson Tatum1.364%0.6733.3%

The post game is not dead just yet, kids; ignore the howling sports commentators who tell you otherwise. The post-up is built differently now, though. No longer is it the way your second-favorite uncle remembers: throw the ball to the biggest person on the court, have them back down a defender, try to get fouled or kick the ball out if a double-team arrives.

Post-ups nowadays are not conducted in an airplane bathroom; it is an action centered around pace and space. The post player wants to hit you with a quick move to the hoop, or they are looking for cutters and shooters. Speed and timing are imperative. Tatum flourished in this role as a rookie.

Tatum scored 1.3 points per possession on post-ups this season, which ranked No. 1 in the ACC and No. 2 in Division I basketball. He shot a liquifying 64 percent out of this look, too. Get ready to see him doing a lot of this in the NBA, where professional franchises love exploiting mismatches in the mid-post regions of the floor.

Once again, Parker was a monster. It is comical to think about how much he kept ACC assistant coaches up at night thinking of ways to curtail their offenses while pouring through a mountain of film and medium roast coffee. Parker recorded, per Synergy, 122 post-ups at Duke — the third-most in the ACC in 2013-14. Parker scored nearly 1.1 points per possession out of the post and was somehow even more deadly as a passer; his teammates shot 50 percent and scored 1.35 points per possession

Ingram has exceptional numbers as a passer here, too, but he simply does not have the volume of attempts to edge out Tatum or Parker.

Winner: Jayson Tatum

 

The Grand Prize winner is…

In our HIGHLY scientific way of determining which player was in fact the most productive while at Duke, we broke this up into nine different categories

Of these categories, each player was victorious at least once. If we looked at more defensive metrics, perhaps Winslow — a tenacious on-ball pest — would have perked up a little bit more. The overall winner, though, is Parker, who claimed four categories. (Get well soon, Jabari. The NBA is more fun when you are running around dunking on fools.)

What will be especially fun is next season when all four players roam the ranks of the NBA and we get to witness them going head-to-head. Tatum is next on the draft docket.