What If Jayson Tatum Was Drafted First or Second?

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 4: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 4: Jayson Tatum /

Jayson Tatum was drafted third overall in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Boston Celtics. The Celtics traded their first overall pick to the 76ers and moved back to the third overall pick where they took Tatum. But what if Tatum was drafted first overall?

The top three picks in the 2017 NBA Draft belonged to the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics, in order. What if the 76ers or Lakers hadn’t passed on Tatum?

Philadelphia 76ers:

The Philadelphia 76ers held the third pick in last years draft but traded with the Celtics to acquire the first overall pick where they would take point guard Markelle Fultz. If they decided to take Tatum we would have seen the former Blue Devil have a much different role. With a starting lineup that currently consists of Ben Simmons, JJ Reddick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid we’re not quite sure what role Tatum would play.

Covington and Tatum currently have stats that are nearly identical. With that being said if Tatum were to be drafted by the Sixers he probably would have split time with Covington. This means we would see Tatum’s stats plummet and he would not be in the position he is currently in, which is a front-runner for the Rookie of the Year Award.

If this were to be the case, Tatum’s 14.1 points per game would diminish to about 6-8 a game with around 21-24 minutes per game compared to his currently 31.1. Alongside the powerhouses of Simmons, Reddick, and Embiid the Sixers may be in contention for a top-5 seed in the East. Tatum on the other hand would not be in consideration for the Rookie of the Year due to the fact that he is getting less minutes, and therefore his production is down.

All in all, Jayson Tatum is better off with the Celtics than he would have been if the 76ers had taken a chance on the former Blue Devil.

Los Angeles Lakers:

The Los Angeles Lakers held the second overall pick in last years draft, which they used to select point guard Lonzo Ball. If the Lakers decided to go a different route and take Jayson Tatum, we would see Tatum play in a similar role to that of what he has with the Celtics. He would have a similar role in terms of production, but he would be playing a different position.

With a starting lineup that currently consists of Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle, Tatum would have gotten his chance. If the Lakers had taken Tatum, they would have started him over their second round pick Kyle Kuzma, and Tatum would have been playing alongside fellow former Blue Devil, Brandon Ingram.

Related Story: Lakers Made A Huge Mistake Skipping Jayson Tatum

Changing over from small forward to power forward would be a small tweak as the positions hold similar responsibilities, but Tatum would have to play in the post more. It would be  interesting to see how Tatum would react to the transition and if he would be able to play bigger as a power forward rather than a small forward who could spot up.

Tatum’s production would most likely decrease in a small way due to the fact he would be playing in the post more than he is currently. This means a lot less threes which means his production would not be what it is at the moment


Just like if the 76ers had taken him, Jayson Tatum is better off with the Boston Celtics than he would have been if the Lakers had taken a chance on him.