NBA writers and observers are starting to pay increased reee-sssspect to Jayson Tatum in the rookie-of-the-year race.
Ben Simmons, the 21-year-old “red shirt” rookie from the 76ers, remains the clear front-runner. Tatum, though, appears to be closing the gap.
As true Celtic fans, we’re hesitant to spend a lot of time thinking about individual honors. Banner 18 remains the thing. But a quick peek at the advanced statistics for both wouldn’t hurt, would it? Nah.
Volume and responsibility (Simmons)
vs. efficiency, wins (Tatum)
It’s hard to compare statistics between players at different positions — but then again, comparing players at different positions is what you do in an MVP or rookie-of-the-year vote.
Simmons, at point guard, has more responsibility for leading his young team, and more opportunities. More assists per 36 minutes for Simmons (7.2) than Tatum (1.6). On the other hand, also more turnovers (3.7 Simmons to 1.5 Tatum.)
Surprisingly, perhaps, Simmons has an edge in rebounding, though the 76ers seem to rely on him and Joel Embid on the boards than the Celtics with a balanced rebounding corps.
In efficiency, the edge is solidly Tatum — not just against other rookies, but much of the NBA. Tatum’s true shooting percentage of .648 puts him, at this point in the season, above Kevin Durant (.626). That’s Kevin Durant this year, by the way, not at age 19.
Tatum isn’t called on to initiate the offense very often, so, sure, he “should be” more efficient.
On the other hand, Tatums fourth quarter and crunch time shooting is even further off the rookie charts. The league benchmark for clutch shooting, per Inpredictable.com, is 45.9 percent. Tatum is shooting just above 60 percent (effective FG%) in clutch and “clutch-squared” situations.
Value over replacement player (which adjusts for the fact they play different positions)? Slight advantage Simmons, 1.3 to 1.1 for Tatum.
Win shares (which normally favor higher-usage players like Simmons)? Tatum 3.3, Simmons 2.1.
In short, given the rise in 76er wins and the periodic triple doubles Simmons puts up, it’s still his race to lose. Still, if he listens closely, he may just hear Jayson Tatum’s footsteps.
RT, or not RT?
It’s up to you. But if you’d like to toss a little gasoline on the fire, you’re welcome to RT us (see below).
#NBA rookie of the year – in advanced stats, less distance between #Celtics @jaytatum0 #JaysonTatum and #76ers #BenSimmons than we expected before checking. VORP close, win shares favor Tatum. Yah, more assists for p.g. Ben – but those turnovers and missed free throws hurt. pic.twitter.com/qL0kAamTgn
— Celtics 24/7 (@celts247) December 7, 2017