The jury might still be out for some, but not for Julius Erving.
The Philadelphia 76ers had their pick of a talented litter of draft picks last summer when they acquired the No. 1 overall pick in a trade with the Boston Celtics. Philly ended up taking guard Markelle Fultz while the C’s selected Duke forward Jayson Tatum with the third-overall selection.
Fultz had a disappointing rookie season due to a shoulder injury that zapped him of his shooting prowess. Tatum, meanwhile, was one of the league’s best rookies and has blossomed during the NBA playoffs, including a 28-point performance in the Celtics’ Game 1 win over the 76ers.
While both players still are very young, Erving is ready to call the fight. The 76ers legend went on ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Thursday and gave the Celtics the win in the Fultz-Tatum debate.
“Tatum probably should have been the first pick in the draft,” Erving 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.”
And Tatum’s performance during the Celtics’ playoff run without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward is what has impressed Dr. J most of all.
“Tatum has been awesome,” Erving said. “When you get a player who can raise the level of his game come playoff time, then you’ve got somebody special, because usually after college, it’s tough to make it to the next level. That’s why only a handful of players really make it to the next level.”
Wise words from Dr. J.