Jayson Tatum had more than enough talent to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but the 20-year-old ultimately had to wait two selections later to hear his name called.
The Boston Celtics, who originally owned the top selection in that draft before trading it to the Philadelphia 76ers, used the No. 3 overall pick to grab Tatum, who turned in a sensational rookie season for the C’s in the 2017-18 campaign.
Tatum apparently was being ribbed about his draft position by fellow Duke product Kyrie Irving at Thursday’s Celtics Shamrock Foundation Gala, but the young swingman was quick to remind Irving — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft — why things panned out the way they did.
It technically is Danny Ainge’s “fault,” but the move wound up being of great benefit to the Celtics. The team president of basketball operations has admitted that Tatum still would have been Boston’s choice had it hung on to the No. 1 overall selection. But with the trade with the 76ers, the C’s only fell two spots in the 2017 draft and also obtained a first-round pick in the 2019 draft, either via Philly itself or the Sacramento Kings.
So while Tatum surely wanted to be No. 1 overall pick, he’ll likely be thanking Ainge for his wheeling and dealing down the road.
Thumbnail photo via Nelson Chenault/USA TODAY Sports