The Good and the Bad of Jae’Sean Tate’s Season
Jae’Sean Tate’s strengths have been obscured due to circumstances outside of his control. At 6’4, Tate’s defensive versatility is limited by a lack of length. However, the Rockets' lack of defensive talent in the frontcourt saw Tate cover players where he routinely spotted them six inches. If he was simply tasked with guarding players that fit his physical profile, his defensive reputation might actually match his ability.
Tate’s defense is his calling card and when the Rockets weren’t asking him to check a team’s best scorer, they routinely asked him to check opposition centers. His combination of strength and tenacity allowed him to hold his own, but to be a lockdown defender you need to be able to alter shots, and that was literally too tall a task.
His defensive real plus/minus of 3.49 was the seventh-best mark among small forwards, and 54th best in the league overall. Posting elite defensive metrics on a poor defensive team while guarding the other team’s best player is no small feat, and shows just how good of a defender he is.
Being the best defensive player on a poor defensive team is a thankless task, but Tate’s ability on that end is why the Rockets narrowly avoided the league’s worst defensive rating. His defense is the real deal, and with some roster improvements, he could really shine.
On offense, Tate does a good job of getting to the rim and then finishing. 41.4% of his shots came within three feet of the rim and he converted 70.5% of his attempts. His off-the-dribble ability is a weapon in the right matchups, and when he’s hot he can carry the offense for short spells.
The biggest hole in Jae’Sean Tate’s game is his lack of a jump shot. He shot 31.2% on 3-pointers and a disappointing 31.6% on corner threes. Inside the arc, it doesn’t get any better. Tate shot 28.6% on mid-range jumpers and 33% on long-twos, although they made up an incredibly small amount of his shot diet.
In the modern game, it’s hard to play effective offense with a low usage player that isn’t an elite rim runner posting sub-35% 3-point shooting. Shooting is the most valuable skill, and it’s the one area of Tate’s game that is a massive weakness.