Jae’Sean Tate had an interesting journey this season going from one of the favorites of most Houston Rockets fans to a guy a lot of close watchers on Rockets social media were ready to trade at the first good opportunity.
And not much has changed with Tate’s performance. This year’s final numbers of 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1 steal on 49.8 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from deep were virtually identical to Tate’s rookie season, but unfortunately, therein lies the issue.
The 26-year-old Tate, who will be 27 at the start of this coming season, is already into his prime as a fully formed basketball player. He’s an energetic and tough defender with good anticipation, he has a high basketball IQ on offense and understands positioning and off-the-ball movement, in addition to having a top-notch post game for a 6’4” swingman, and he also brings useful leadership qualities that are beneficial to a young and growing team.
But any Tate criticism isn’t necessarily about what he can do, it’s more about what he can’t do. Namely, shoot the three-ball. In today’s NBA, it’s a massive liability to have a guy at the two or three who is incapable of hitting the triple at at least a league average rate. And Tate is simply too small to play the four with any real long-term effectiveness. And these days, the fours all need to have long-distance range as well.
And to be quite honest, even if Tate doesn’t stick with the Rockets, he’s going to need to better that triple shot at any eventual destination. If he does, he has the all-around game in other areas to be a glue guy with a long career, a la P.J. Tucker.
If he sticks with the Rockets, he’s better served coming off of the bench rather than the 77 games he started in Houston this past year.
Either way, Houston has a major decision coming up with Tate, as they hold a $1.7 million team option for the 2022-2023 season. My guess is that they pick it up, as that’s a huge bargain, even for a bench piece with Tate’s capabilities, but they’ll then have another decision to make even if they do pick it up.
Do they look to move him during the season before his contract expires or do they look to sign him to a long-term deal? Plenty of questions to be answered that likely don’t start to come into full focus until we see who the Rockets end up taking with their two first round picks in this year’s draft.