Celtics would have chosen Tatum with number one pick

The 2017 NBA Draft is over and done with, thus ending one of the craziest weeks in recent NBA history. The Boston Celtics traded their number one pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for their third pick and a future pick, which got fans and media speculating over Danny Ainge’s next move. Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Kristaps Porzingis were all rumored to be on Ainge’s list of trade targets, but the Celtics stood pat and opted to keep their pick. Jayson Tatum from Duke was the choice, and despite trading away the first pick in the draft, Ainge claims he would have picked the same guy had he kept it, per Jay King from MassLive.com

Some will dispute Ainge’s claims, but it’s easy to see why he prefers Tatum over the other prospects. The forward tweener is able to create his own shot and his scoring ability has drawn comparisons to the likes of Carmelo Anthony. His defensive impact leaves much to be desired, but with the help of Brad Stevens coaching, there’s a chance he’ll improve on that end.

The drafting of Tatum was viewed as a head-scratcher by many, due to his position not being one of need on the Celtics roster. In this day and age of “positionless basketball” as Stevens labelled it, Boston weren’t going to pass up on their number one target because of the strong depth they have at small forward. Ainge clearly believes in Tatum’s talent and his public adoration of him only reinforces that.

A trade for George or Butler may well have been on the cards for the Celtics, and seeing Ainge stick to his guns once again instead of acquiring an established star will annoy some. But leaving the draft, Boston still have a ton of assets in their drawer. With free agency still to come, the front office had no reason to panic, choosing to remain patient while top players from around the league became available.

That's a big reason why the Celtics were one of the biggest winners on Thursday night, in my opinion. If the pursuit of Gordon Hayward pays off, then bringing on George or Porzingis becomes alot more likely. There was little reason to make those moves a couple of weeks before free agency begins.

In Ainge's eyes, Boston grabbed the best player in the draft while also managing to add a possible lottery pick in the future. What a way to start off a big summer for the franchise.

Credit to Mike Stobe/ Getty Images (top) and Jeremy Brevard/ USA Today Sports (bottom) for the photos