While the 2020-21 season has been a disaster for the Houston Rockets, not everything is as grim as it appears. The Rockets made the best free-agent signing of the offseason and look to have a potential star on their hands in none other than Jae’Sean Tate.
Yes, Jae’Sean Tate, not Christian Wood, was the Rockets’ best move of the offseason. While Wood has posted fantastic numbers this season, Tate has more than held his own in his first NBA season.
According to basketball reference’s win shares and Fivethirtyeight’s wins above replacement metrics, Tate has been the most valuable rookie this season. Yet, the highest praise bestowed upon Tate has been his comparison to Paul George.
How Houston Rockets’ rookie Jae’Sean Tate stacks up to Paul George
In an article by Zach Kram of the ringer, where he utilizes a statistical model to compare rookie seasons from the 1999-2000 season to the present, he found that Jae’Sean Tate’s best comp was Paul George’s rookie season. What makes this comparison even more exciting is that the model only looks at the offensive side of the game.
Tate has been by no means a disaster on offense but his defense has been his calling card all season, much like a young Paul George. Looking at the two’s per 36-minute numbers from their rookie season tells you everything you need to know.
Per 36 Minutes: PTS REBS AST STL BLK FG% 3P% FT%
Paul George: 13.5 6.4 1.8 1.8 0.7 45.3% 29.7% 76.2%
Jae’Sean Tate: 13.8 6.7 2.7 1.5 0.7 52.8% 30.4% 73.5%
When what we know about their defense is added into the equation it becomes apparent, that as rookies, Jae’Sean Tate and Paul George are two peas in a pod. Now, there are two caveats that need to be acknowledged.
The first is that Paul George did this as a 20-year-old rookie, unlike Jae’Sean Tate who is already 25. The second is that George experienced a massive jump in his 3-point shooting efficiency in year two that was wholly unexpected and was when he began to resemble the Paul George we know today.
Is Jae’Sean Tate the next Paul George? Probably not, but being half of as good as Paul George is an incredibly valuable player. The Rockets have Tate locked up for the next two seasons for a total of $3.3 million with none of it guaranteed.
The Rockets landed the best rookie of the season for next to nothing in free agency. Tate likely isn’t the next Paul George, but then again, all he has done is prove that he’s way better than we thought.