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First of all, what the hell is going on with the Philadelphia 76'ers Markelle Fultz' free throw style? Take a look at the video attached to the tweet below. Awkward doesn't totally describe it. It looks like he is trying to push, and then wish, the ball into the hoop.



It is still early in the season, but would you rather have Fultz or Jayson Tatum and a potentially-high first round pick in 2018 or 2019? Jayson has played in three games thus far, and Markelle has played in four. Here is the comparison:

Tatum: 35.3 MPG, 12.3 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 BPG, .407 FG%, .824 FT%
Fultz: 19.0 MPG, 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.3 BPG, .333 FG%, .500 FT%

Look at the minutes. This is not the way is was supposed to be. Markelle was the top pick in the draft, going to a rebuilding (forever?) team. We expected big minutes. Jayson came in as the third pick in the same draft and went to a strong team destined to go far in the playoffs. We expected maybe 18-20 minutes a night, not 35+.

If Ben Simmons was to be the 76'ers point guard, that would put Fultz into the shooting guard spot. But he can't shoot, the 33.3% on field goals and 50% on free throws being the indicator. And did I mention his form at the charity stripe? That is definitely a mental focus or confidence issue. Tatum has no such problems. On the court, he is relaxed and confident. Without being cocky. Danny Ainge may have pulled off another heist. Here are some thoughts from the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan on both members of the Jay-Team and what might be ahead for the Celts:

Jayson Tatum is 19 years old. Once upon a time he would be a sophomore in college. Now he will be asked to play a primary role on a team that still thinks it can accomplish something meaningful this season, Gordon Hayward or no Gordon Hayward.

Truth is, the same can probably be said of that grizzled veteran Jaylen Brown, age 20. He, too, will be asked to contribute more at the offensive end than would have been expected if Hayward were in the lineup. Now, I am a card-carrying member of the Jaylen Brown Fan Club, and I think he will rise to this occasion. I said, “I think.” Have I mentioned that he is 20?

So we concede the top spot to Cleveland. And then? Washington? Toronto? Milwaukee? Are any of them clearly better than the Hayward-less Boston Celtics? What if Tatum turns out to be a Rookie of the Year-level player? It’s possible. What if Brown really has developed a shot to go along with the other good things he does? What if Marcus Smart becomes just a tad more reliable from the outside? What if one of the newcomer big men — Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele, etc. — can really play? And don’t forget about Aron Baynes.

After three games, Jayson is the team's leading rebounder with 9.0 RPG. Marcus Smart is hauling down 8.0 RPG, and Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes and Kyrie Irving average 7.3, 6.3, 5.7, 5.0 and 4.7 respectively. The rebounding has improved significantly, and it starts with Tatum.

One of our readers made a Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen comparison to the Tatum/Brown duo. At their peak, Michael and Scottie were two of the top five players in the league. Like Bob Ryan, I have been a big fan of Jaylen since he came to Boston. Virtually everyone sees the talent in Jayson. Brown as an All-Star this year and Tatum as ROY are not out of the question. If these two blossom as hoped and paired with Irving, Gordon Hayward, Horford, Smart, Rozier and the other Celts mentioned by Ryan, we are off and running. And scoring and rebounding. And off to the finals and beyond. There are many positive signs.

As Bob Ryan wrote in yesterday's Boston Globe, "Mann tracht un Gott lacht", indicating that's Yiddish for "Man plans, and God laughs". Well, God may have chuckled a bit after Danny Ainge's planning went slightly awry with Gordon Hayward's injury, but Danny and Celts fans may see some humor of their own in the Fultz/Tatum heist. And God knows, there are 29 other teams out there. Divine Humor needs to be spread around.

Photo via NBA 2K18 on Twitter




Tom Lane 10/24/2017 07:51:00 AM Edit
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