Dr. J admits 76ers should have drafted Jayson Tatum over Markelle Fultz
The 76ers swapped picks with the Celtics to move up to No. 1 in last year’s NBA Draft, and the overwhelming consensus is that Boston ended up with the better player anyway. With an entire season and a bunch of playoff games in the books, even Philly legend Julius Erving feels that way.
In an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Thursday, Dr. J shared some of his thoughts on Jayson Tatum. In his opinion, the Sixers should have taken Tatum instead of Markelle Fultz.
“Tatum probably should have been the first pick in the draft,” Dr. J said. “He was there. I guess it was all about the fit. We took Fultz. Philly took Fultz. Obviously his rookie year, I think he’ll be a rookie again next year, sort of like [Ben] Simmons, because of all the injuries.”
Fultz was limited to just 14 games during the regular season because of a shoulder issue, and he averaged just 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game. He scored five total points in three games against the Miami Heat in the opening round of the playoffs, and 76ers coach Brett Brown benched him for the final two games of that series and Game 1 against the Celtics on Tuesday.
While Fultz has been a disappointment, Tatum looks like a star in the making. He played more than 30 minutes per game for the Celtics during the regular season and averaged 13.9 points and 5.0 rebounds. He’s been even better in the postseason with 17.0 points per game as he takes on a bigger role in Kyrie Irving’s absence.
“Tatum has been awesome,” Dr. J added. “When you get a player who can raise the level of his game come playoff time, then you’ve got somebody special because usually after college it’s tough to make it to the next level. That’s why only a handful of players really make it to the next level.”
You know what they say about hindsight, but it looks like Danny Ainge outsmarted his counterparts in Philly. Even if Fultz was hurt during his rookie year, there have been indications that a lot of his struggles are mental. It’s far too early for Sixers fans to panic, but you can’t blame Dr. J and others for wishing their team drafted Tatum instead.