Very good read and it often felt like KOC was speaking my mind. Jackson definitely gets an advantage in raw athleticism and defense, but casual fans fail to dig deeper to realize that Tatum and Jackson rebounded at the same margin, had the same amount of blocks and had a steal rate that was similar (admittedly Jackson’s was higher).
What I think does matter are a few inescapable truths, Jackson is over a year older than Tatum (this definitely matters for development both physically and in basketball) Tatum is a bit taller with a longer reach as well. I have no reason to believe he cant be an interchangeable Guard/Wing in the modern NBA on both offense and defense.
Many of Tatum’s “flaws” appear not only to be overblown, but also simply unfair. Tatum was an iso-scorer at Duke, but that was largely the role he was placed in — and he was good at it! So now he is being bashed as a non-passer and ball-stopper when that simply isnt the case. Tatum gets knocked for defense when he is far from liability.
Further, when comparing him to Jackson specifically, Jackson appears to get the benefit of the doubt about his weaknesses but Tatum doesnt — is it a anti-Duke thing? I am not sure. The fact of the matter is, Jackson’s broken shot makes him a liability on offense (if he cant shoot guys can take a step back to slow down whatever ability he has getting to the rim) and because Jackson is an outright abomination at the free-throw line he is the type of player who cannot even be on the floor late in games and in crunch time. Jackson’s flaw is fatal in the modern NBA.
Tatum on the other hand is perfect for the modern NBA because he is a three-level scorer, he can hit 3s, has an outstanding mid-range game, can attack the rim and hits free throws at a borderline elite level. His height/weight/wingspan mix allows him to switch 1–3 easily with the ability to do 1–4 in true small-ball lineups. Tatum has a handle to take a rebound on the defensive end and begin the offense on the other end. In the era of position-less basketball, space and pace offense Tatum fits in perfectly meanwhile Jackson is an athletic defender who becomes a liability on offense.
Finally, when discussing intangibles I find it interesting that Jackson again gets the benefit of the doubt and is credited with being a “tremendous competitor” and less love is paid to Tatum who is by all-accounts not just a good kid but already a professional on and off the court. It is clear in his high level skill and footwork, one is not born doing the things he does. Tatum already has the offensive skill of a multi-year pro and is the type of prospect I have tremendous confidence in continuing to work even after getting paid because he has the desire to be great and be a complete player.
Give me Tatum at #3.