Boston Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum has immediately made a good impression since being drafted the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Tatum is one of the players who stepped up when the Celtics lost their superstars, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, to a season-ending injuries. With his performance, there is no doubt that the Celtics made the right decision to trade the No. 1 pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick and another late first-round pick last June.
While Jayson Tatum continues to make noise in the league, Markelle Fultz, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, has missed the most of his rookie season due to injury. He only played 14 games in the regular season and scored five points in his first three postseason games against the Miami Heat. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, fans have the opportunity to see a match up between Tatum and Fultz as the Sixers face the Celtics.
Unfortunately, Sixers head coach Brett Brown has yet to use Fultz against the Celtics, as he decided to stick with the rotation that helped the team advance in the second round. Sixers legend Julius Erving can’t help but make comparisons between Tatum and Fultz. Dr. J believes Tatum should have been the No. 1 pick and not Fultz.
“Tatum probably should have been the first pick in the draft,” Dr. J said, via ESPN. “He was there. I guess it was all about the fit. We took Fultz. Philly took Fultz. Obviously his rookie year, I think he’ll be a rookie again next year, sort of like [Ben] Simmons, because of all the injuries.”
As of now, it’s quite easy to say that Jayson Tatum is better than Markelle Fultz. In the 80 games he played in the regular season, Tatum averaged 13.9 points and five rebounds on 47.5 percent shooting from the field and 43.4 percent from beyond the arc. He even increased his production in his first eight playoff games, averaging 17.0 points on 34.1 minutes on the floor.
Julius Erving believes not every player who comes from college can immediately adjust to the NBA environment like Tatum. The 20-year-old small forward may only be a rookie, but he is already playing like a veteran in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Though there is a huge gap between him, Ben Simmons, and Donovan Mitchell, Tatum is still in the mix for 2018 Rookie of the Year.
Erving’s comment reached Markelle Fultz, who insisted that he already proved in college that he deserves to be a No. 1 pick. Fultz said that all he can do now is to improve his game and prove doubters like Erving that they are wrong.