Luka Doncic vs Jayson Tatum: Who’s the better franchise centerpiece?

Doncic and Tatum
Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum are set to duel for years to come. Photo from Mass Live.

We have to be extremely cautious when we talk about the Doncic vs Tatum comparison. Not only because it’ll trigger two big fanbases but also because, in reality, you couldn’t go wrong with either choice.

For starters, both players are generational talents who have embraced a leadership role even at a young age. They haven’t shied away from the big moment, always willing to take that last shot and pursue the ultimate glory. You don’t find that very often.

Doncic vs Tatum comparison

And, from a basketball standpoint, not many players have been able to achieve what these two have. That’s why today, we’re going to discuss who could be a better centerpiece for a rebuilding franchise. So, buckle up, and get ready as we break down Luka vs Tatum.

Scoring – Tatum

Luka Doncic is one of the best scorers in the NBA already. Averaging 25.7 points per game per his career, he can efficiently score from all three levels. Even so, Jayson Tatum is a more efficient scorer (45.2% from the floor, 38.6% from three) and has a higher career-high (60 to Doncic’s 46).

Although Tatum’s career average of 20.0 isn’t as high as Doncic’s he’s been around the league for longer and has a better scoring repertoire.

Defense – Tatum

Doncic isn’t a good defender at all. While he has good hands and averages 1.0 steals per game, he rarely guards his rival’s best offensive player and finds the way to hide on defense more often than not. Tatum has embraced the challenge to guard players like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and James Harden and has been successful at times.

While not a two-way stud, he can hold his own against quicker, bigger opposition.

Handles – Doncic

Doncic has some of the nicest handles in the game. He’s an elite playmaker and, even though he’s not fast, he’s poised and knows how to take control of offensive flow. He has the ball on a string and is a crafty guy who can thrive in limited space.


Tatum has improved as a passer but doesn’t even do much dribbling outside of isolation situations. He’s more of a pure scorer.

Leadership – Doncic

Doncic embraced a leadership role and took the challenge to lead the post-Dirk Nowitzki era in Dallas.

And, although he’s yet to win a playoff series, he’s single-handedly led the team to the postseason year in and year out, balling lights out in the postseason.

Tatum has had a better supporting cast and has struggled mightily in a couple of playoff series.

Athleticism – Tatum

Tatum is a gifted athlete. He can finish through contact and play and guard multiple positions thanks to his physical traits. He can take off from the free-throw line and dunk on the biggest guy on the rival team, contour his body and finish above or below the rim at will.

Doncic isn’t exactly athletic or fast. He’s even shown up in not-so-good shape a couple of times in his career, but he hasn’t needed that to thrive.

Upside – Doncic

Doncic continues to improve at a dramatic rate. He keeps getting better, more poised, more in control of the game and his emotions, and it seems like it’s a matter of time before he wins MVP.

He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of offensive talent like LeBron James and Larry Bird and he’s far from tapping into all of his potential. Tatum has the potential to be an all-time great scorer and Hall of Famer but it feels like his ceiling isn’t that far above what we’ve seen already.

Overall winner – Doncic

While Jayson Tatum could be a centerpiece on every single franchise in the NBA, he’s no Luka Doncic.

Both are some of the best young players in the NBA, but the Luka vs Tatum debate was never fair. They have different mindsets, play different styles, and Doncic has already proven to be a unique kind of talent.

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