We know. It’s only been 25 games. Lonzo Ball could become a sharpshooting NBA superstar, while Jayson Tatum could regress after a hot start.
But we only can report what we’ve seen so far. With that in mind, check out this mind-boggling stat comparing the Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard and the Boston Celtics rookie forward:
Those percentages aren’t for a single game, mind you. They’re for the entire season to date. Tatum, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft, leads all qualified players with a ridiculous 51.3 3-point percentage. Ball, the No. 2 pick, is shooting an even 50 percent — from the free-throw line.
When you expand both players’ shooting statistics, the difference is even more eye-opening. Despite taking nearly two shots fewer than Ball per game on average — 9.1 attempts per game to Ball’s 10.8 — Tatum still averages five-plus more points per contest, at 13.8 points per game to Ball’s 8.7. Go beyond the arc, and it’s not even close: If you doubled Ball’s brutal 25 percent mark from 3-point range, it’s still wouldn’t match Tatum’s 51.3 percent clip.
If you’re a visual learner, here are both rookies’ shot charts as of Tuesday:.
To clarify: The gulf between Tatum and Ball in their young NBA careers isn’t as disparate as it seems. Yes, Tatum has been a superior scorer and a much better shooter, but those weren’t Ball’s greatest attributes entering the league, anyway. The UCLA product ranks second among NBA rookies with seven assists per game and actually is averaging more rebounds per contest (6.9) than the 6-foot-8 Tatum (5.3).
Ball also has mediocre talent around him and deals with the immense pressure of being LaVar Ball’s son, while Tatum greatly benefits from Kyrie Irving’s elite playmaking ability on the current best team in the NBA.
Still, it appears Celtics president of basketball operations was onto something when he hinted that Tatum was higher on his draft board than both Ball and Markelle Fultz. And we’d imagine he’s pretty pleased with his rookie’s performance to date.
Thumbnail photos via Bob DeChiara (L) and Isaiah J. Downing (R)/USA TODAY Sports Images
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