The Boston Celtics selected Jayson Tatum on June 22 with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft. Tatum was selected over other top 5 talents like De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson. Tatum is known as a superior offensive talent, while Jackson has a better defensive game and explosive leaping ability.
Tatum joins a Boston Celtics squad that already has two quality small forwards in Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown. Since Tatum is taller than both, he will probably play the role of a stretch 4, able to shoot the three while coming off the bench. This will allow the Celtics to mix and match positions 1-3 in small ball packages that will include guards and small forwards such as Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, and Jaylen Brown.
It is unusual for a high draft pick to not get playing time while healthy. This is a rare instance in which a put together playoff team picks in the top 3. Tatum faces his first couple years being dedicated to coming off of the bench while probably not averaging more than 19-21 minutes a game.
This is a very good selection by Boston. It was the best pick they could have made. They lacked a consistent secondary scorer, and Tatum very well might be at that skill level in a couple of years. When Tatum does play small forward for the Celtics, he adds good size with his 6’8″ frame and 6’10” wingspan for a team with a familiar problem of guarding LeBron. Tatum also gives the Celtics an able rebounder willing to put in extra effort on the boards, something Boston has longed for the past couple of seasons.
As far as a pro comparison goes, Tatum reminds most scouts of Celtic great Paul Pierce, both were lottery picks with great offensive games and good size for a small forward. Danny Ainge and co. hope Tatum can match the impact Pierce had in Boston if he grows into the star that he has the potential to become.
Tatum is very athletic, with a decent post game as well. He can make every shot you need him to, and do it with reasonable consistency. If he can improve his average defensive game, the sky is the limit for Tatum. He can become one of the best two-way players in the NBA by working on his defensive game and adding strength to his 6’8″ frame.
Tatum played almost all of Duke’s games this past season, playing 29 of them. He averaged 33 minutes a game with 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists. He shot 50.4% inside the arc, with many midrange shots, and 34.2% from deep. Those two percentages alone show his great offensive game and what it can become in the near future.