Why is the NBA Considering Jayson Tatum a Shooting Guard?

In a recent article, ESPN’s Zach Lowe revealed his All-NBA team picks for the 2020 season. Surprisingly, Lowe had Jayson Tatum listed as a guard, which caught the attention of more than a few disgruntled fans.

Fred Katz of The Athletic announced on Twitter earlier this month that this was the case:

One name missing there is Kawhi Leonard, who is apparently also eligible at guard. Lowe has Leonard as one of his First Team All-Defense guards along with Ben Simmons, which resulted in Marcus Smart being demoted to the Second Team.

The positional flexibility afforded to voters is odd, especially for Tatum and Leonard. According to basketball reference, Leonard played only 18% of his minutes at guard this season. Meanwhile, Tatum played an astonishing 0% of his minutes at guard, which makes it dumbfounding that he would be eligible at the position for award voting purposes.

Some voters may appreciate the liberties they’ve been given this year, as many have been clambering for All-NBA sports to be awarded to the 15 best players regardless of position for years. Others may have a moral quandary with giving someone like Tatum a spot on an All-NBA Team as a guard when he hasn’t played a single second at the position this season.

Nevertheless, this means two things for the Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum’s chances of making the All-NBA team are higher and Marcus Smart’s chances of making First Team All-Defense are lower. However, Tatum was likely going to make an All-NBA team even if he was only eligible at forward.

If the NBA is really moving towards a positionless All-NBA ballot, that’s fine, but it’d be nice if they would be a little bit more transparent about it. Listing Jayson Tatum as a shooting guard and forcing voters to take the blame for their rather odd looking ballots is just wrong.

Photo: (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports)

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