It appears the Boston Celtics weren’t the only ones wanting to go another direction with the No. 1 overall draft pick.
Jeff Van Gundy, the ESPN analyst and former NBA coach, said two weeks ago during the NBA Finals that the Celtics should draft Duke forward Jayson Tatum over Washington guard Markelle Fultz.
“Well, it seems like there’s a lot of different opinions, (but) I don’t think (Celtics president of basketball operations) Danny Ainge is going to be swayed by anybody else’s opinion,” Van Gundy told “Pillow Talk Show” host Max Berkowitz in San Francisco, for an episode that will premiere Tuesday on NESN.com. “I think he’s going to evaluate (it) himself. I like Jayson Tatum. … I love Jayson Tatum.”
While Van Gundy didn’t further explain his love for Tatum, Ainge did confirm that the Blue Devils star worked out for the Celtics on Monday. ESPN reported, via a source, that Tatum impressed the Celtics with his shot-making and footwork.
The 6-foot-8, 205-pound forward most likely will be available to the Celtics at No. 3, their new NBA draft position after the trade with the Philadelphia 76ers was finalized. Scouts have noted concerns with Tatum’s off-the-ball play, along with his streaky shooting and commitment to defense, but he averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while holding his own against older players during his lone season with the Blue Devils.
If NBA player comparisons are your thing, NBADraft.net sees Tatum as an Allan Houston/Danny Granger-type player, and NBAScoutingLive.com lists Luol Deng and Jabari Parker as comparables. The Celtics probably want a more transcendent player with the No. 3 pick — if they don’t trade it, that is — but NBA observers believe the 19-year-old could grow into his body and become a force close to the rim.
Draft Express broke down Tatum’s strengths and weaknesses, which you can watch in the videos below.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images