With the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft the Boston Celtics found themselves in familiar territory. They had three options going in: make a blockbuster deal, trade down for more picks, or take the 2016 route and make the pick at No. 3. Though Danny tried to workout a deal for Jimmy Butler, he wasn’t willing to part with the No. 3 pick or the 2018 Brooklyn first rounder. Trade talks with the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis died down as Phil never came down on his asking price. The Celtics chose to stand pat, and for the second year in a row made the pick at No. 3.
Using the third pick in the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics selected Jason Tatum from Duke. Like Jaylen Brown last year, Tatum was a top 4 recruit heading into college where he played one season for Duke before going pro. Some NBA experts such as Jay Bilas from ESPN, and Kevin O’Connor from The Ringer, think that Jayson Tatum is the most talented player in this draft. Many scouts say Tatum will be the best long-term prospect as he has one of the highest ceilings and is one of the safest picks.
Not only is Tatum talented on the court, but he has a great head on his shoulders off the court. Growing up in St. Louis, and being raised by his Mom, Tatum never had it easy. He credits his Mom and says all of her sacrifices and struggles are what got him to this point in life. He plans to reward her, and all single mothers around the country by starting his own organization called “The Single Mothers Program.” Tatum told USA Sports, “Because I grew up in a single parent home with my mom, growing up things weren’t always the best. And just to be a blessing to some parent with a child and they’re working and just to have a house to live in and a roof over your head and free utilities. I think someone would be very grateful.” If that doesn’t win you over, his play on the court will.
Tatum is the exact type of player the Celtics needed. Having modeled his game after Paul George, and drawing comparisons to Paul Pierce, Tatum immediately fills an area of need on this Celtics team. Though coach Brad Stevens said after the pick “He needs to get better on both ends,” Tatum brings an immediate scoring threat to the C’s. Tatum may be the most offensively ready player in the entire draft, and has a dangerous arsenal of post moves. He scored the most points per post up possession in all of the NCAA at 1.03 points on 33 attempts. Unlike any other Celtic on the roster not named Isaiah Thomas, Tatum can also get his shot up whenever he wants. Though he wants to work on his 3 point consistency, Tatum has a smooth stroke that defenses will have to respect or it will hurt them.
Defensively, Tatum stands to get better. What 19 year old kid entering a league full of grown men doesn’t? Tatum knows he needs to bulk up in order to bang with the big boys. At 6’8″ 205lbs Tatum has a good NBA body and plenty of room to grow. When Brad Stevens was asked where Tatum would play defensively he said “it doesn’t matter.” Tatum has said he’s most comfy at the 3, but once he bulks up could be a dominant 4 in todays NBA. He acknowledged that when asked how he can continue to be a dominant scorer in the NBA, “I need to get bigger. I think that’s first and foremost.”
Overall, I think the Celtics nailed this pick. Though they are still in talks with the Pacers for Paul George (Tatum not included), the big trade just wasn’t there and I’m glad the C’s didn’t overpay for Porzingis/Butler, or sell the farm for a year of George. Tatum was the best player available at No. 3, and no doubt the best fit for the Celtics.
The Celtics also had the 37th, 53rd, and 56th picks in the second round of the draft. They used the 37th pick to select 22 year old Forward Semi Ojeleye out of SMU. Ojeleye is physically gifted at 6’6″ 235lbs, and is an athletic beast, who’s a versatile defender, and he can really shoot the ball. He shot 42% from 3 point range in college, while averaging 19 ppg during his one season at SMU. Early reaction is the Celtics got a steal here as Semi was rated much higher on everyone’s draft board, and was pegged to go in the first round.
With the 53rd pick the Celtics took Arizona’s 24 year old PG Kadeem Allen. Yes, Allen is 24 years old which is considered old for a draft prospect, some considered him the best defensive player in the NCAA last year. At 6″1″ 200lbs with a 6’9″ wingspan, Allen is already NBA ready as far as is body goes. Mike Schmitz, director of scouting for @DraftExpress thinks, “Kadeem Allen will be a ten year pro. One of the best perimeter defenders in this draft.” That might be difficult with the Celtics jam of defensive guards. Now, if they were to move Bradley this summer, then there’s a chance he sees some time since has value as a lock down defender immediately.
With the 56th pick in the draft the Celtics took Jaylen Brown’s former Cal teammate, Jabari Bird. Bird is a 6’6″ 200lb shooting guard, and shooting is his best skill. Bird was a top 25 recruit in 2013 when he joined Cal. He was hindered by ankle injuries throughout his career but still scored 14 ppg his sophomore year at Cal. Bird reportedly made 77/100 3’s in the Celtics workout, so he can really stroke the ball. He doesn’t pick his spots the best, but as Brad emphasized this year, he doesn’t put too much into a young players shot selection. It will come naturally, and the last time the Celtics picked a player named Bird it worked out pretty well. Worth the shot.
The Celtics are coming off an Eastern Conference Finals visit, just added a talented No. 3 pick in Jayson Tatum, are still loaded with assets, and are the most attractive free agent destination. They absolutely killed the second round with a couple steals that could make other players expendable for cap space, and really came out of this draft as clear winners.
There are still moves to be made as the C’s will now look to clear cap space for a max free agent by trading Bradley or Crowder. They are rumored to have their eyes on Gordon Hayward from Utah, and are in the Clippers Blake Griffin’s, “Mount Rushmore of NBA cities.” The Celtics still have plenty of assets, and are looking to create cap space, so don’t rule out them landing another star to tag along with their current core.
Celtics fans can get look forward to watching Tatum getting buckets for a very long time. They can see Tatum and co. in Green, and in action for the first time on July 3rd, when they take on the 76ers in the first Summer League Game. The Summer League team is going to be loaded with 2017 draft picks, along with Jaylen Brown, Zizic, and possibly Yabusele. The first game is against none other than the player the Celtics trade for Tatum, Markelle Fultz. Should be a fun game with plenty of defense, and a lot of buckets for the young Celtics. The future is brighter than ever.