BOSTON (CBS) — Most of us spent the last month learning all we could about Markelle Fultz, who looked destined to end up a Boston Celtic on draft night.
Then Danny Ainge did what Danny Ainge does and traded away the No. 1 overall pick. The Celtics will now pick third on Thursday night following their soon-to-be-official blockbuster swap, unless of course, Ainge turns around and trades that pick too.
While it was all Fultz all the time when the C’s had the first pick, there’s a little more intrigue and mystery surrounding the third selection. After Philadelphia takes Fultz No. 1, the Lakers will likely take Lonzo Ball at No. 2, and barring Boston’s storied rival throwing a wrench in their plan, the Celtics will their choice of the talented forwards in this year’s draft: Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Kansas’ Josh Jackson.
So before the picks start flying off the board on Thursday night, here’s a look at Tatum, who could be wearing Green next season now that the Celtics are out of the top spot:
Weight: 205 lbs
Position: Small Forward
Birthday: March 3, 1998
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Points Per Game: 16.8
Rebounds Per Game: 7.3
Assists Per Game: 2.1
Steals Per Game: 1.3
Turnovers Per Game: 2.6
Field Goal Percentage: 45%
Three-Point Percentage: 34%
Free Throw Percentage: 85%
There was never any doubt in Tatum’s mind that he was going to be a basketball player. He was a top recruit out of Chaminade Prep School in Missouri, where as a senior he averaged 29.6 points per game and 9.1 rebounds en route to the school’s second Missouri State Championship. He was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year and was selected to the McDonald’s All-American Game in 2016, scoring 18 points with eight rebounds in the annual exhibition while also winning the skills competition.
The kid also owns three gold medals as a member of USA Basketball, winning his first with the FIBA U-16 team in 2013, one at the FIBA U17 World Championship in 2014 and capping it off with another at the FIBA U19 World Championship in 2015.
The forward lived up to some high expectations heading into his Duke career, despite spraining his foot at the school’s pre-season pro day and missing the first month of the season. After a modest 10-point debut in a win over Maine, Tatum poured in 22 points and pulled down nine rebounds in a Blue Devils victory over Florida. He had seven 20-point games at Duke, including a career-high 28 points off 8-for-13 shooting in a win against ACC foe Virginia. Tatum averaged 22 points and 7.5 rebounds in the ACC Tournament, including a 19-point, 8-rebound performance in Duke’s 75-69 title game win over Notre Dame. Tatum was a big part of that Duke victory with his fingerprints all over the stat sheet over his 39 minutes on the floor, but he took his game to another level in the final minutes. He blocked a shot with 1:33 left and went coast-to-coast for a layup to give Duke a 68-65 lead, found his teammate for an open three to put Duke on top by four with 50 seconds left, and sealed the victory with a dunk and foul off an inbounds pass with 25 seconds left.
Tatum logged a double-double in his first NCAA Tournament game with 18 points and 12 rebounds in a Round 1 victory over Troy, but his college career came to an end when Duke was upset by seven-seeded South Carolina, 88-81, in the second round. Tatum scored 15 points off 6-for-12 shooting in the loss.
As for what’s next for the promising 19-year-old, besides the NBA, Tatum and his mother already have plans to start a nonprofit in St. Louis to support single moms called “The Single Mothers Program.”
– Tatum is a solid isolation scorer with a good mid-range shot.
– He has good footwork which allows him to create space against his defender, and does a good job drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line.
– He’s a very good ball handler and a strong passer; could serve as a point-forward from the three or four position.
– Whether he finds himself playing small forward or power forward, Tatum will likely create mismatches on the offensive end.
– He’s a strong rebounder for a wing player.
– Tatum is being praised as an extremely mature player for 19 years old.
– While his shot isn’t bad, he’ll need to improve on his secondary options to become a go-to scorer. Tatum lives off of mid-range shots but he’ll have to become a better three-point shooter at the NBA level.
– He needs to improve on the pick-and-roll, a staple in the Boston offense. That should come with more experience.
– Tatum will need to become a more physical and better defender in the NBA. He often lacked a defensive mentality in college, and struggled off the ball.