The Boston Celtics selected Jayson Tatum in the 2017 NBA Draft. He is who they wanted, even after trading down with the Philadelphia 76ers.
On a recent podcast appearance, Tatum said he knew the Celtics would have selected him at No. 1 overall. He said the Sixers did not know and assumed they were going to select Markelle Fultz. Tatum became cheaper at No. 3 and the Celtics also received an extra pick from Philadelphia in the process.
This isn’t shocking news. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Celtics had Tatum and Josh Jackson in the “same tier” as Fultz and Lonzo Ball. Ford also reported Boston was “leaning towards” selecting Tatum.
Danny Ainge, who is president of basketball operations for the Celtics, hinted he would select Tatum before the draft (via ESPN):
“We think there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at [No.] 3 is the same player we would have taken at [No.] 1. So this was a great opportunity to acquire an impactful asset.”
After the draft, Ainge confirmed he would have picked Tatum at No. 1 overall. Some mock drafts had Tatum to Boston when they had the first overall selection, but it would have been a surprise if the Celtics had passed on Fultz or Ball.
Reports also indicate the Celtics declined an offer to use the No. 3 overall pick to land Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls. Clearly, Boston really wanted Tatum and believes he will fit in their system.