Jayson Tatum says the Celtics were going to take him 1st overall

Had there been no trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Boston Celtics would have selected Jayson Tatum with the 1st-overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. That's what Danny Ainge and the C's brass have been saying since they selected Tatum with the 3rd pick they got from Philly in a deal for the 1st pick and a future 1st that could end up being near the top of one of the next two drafts.

Obviously the Celtics are going to say they got the guy they wanted all along, but it's interesting that now Tatum is saying that the C's were planning on selecting him 1st. Via DJ Bean of CSNNE.com:

“The Celtics were always going to pick me No. 1, but Philly didn’t know that,” Tatum said. “Philly thought that Boston was going to pick Markelle, so Philly traded the pick and gave Boston a pick for next year, so Boston was like, ‘Well, we can still get the player we want, a [future] pick and then we get the player we wanted for less money.’ So Boston still got what they wanted, and Philly had to give up still to get the player. But Philly didn’t know that Boston was gong to pick me, so that’s why they traded up.”

It sure sounds like Tatum was in on the plan the whole time. I suppose that the Celtics may have told him they wanted him with the 1st pick, but I'm not really sure what they'd gain in doing that. I do distinctly remember that when Markelle Fultz came to Boston for a workout that got a ton of media attention he did say that Ainge gave him no guarantee that he would be their choice at #1.

On the other hand, Tatum was an afterthought in terms of becoming a Celtic, and yet he was the very first guy they worked out this offseason. He was brought in again the day the pick-swap was finalized on the Monday before draft day, which is more likely when the Celtics told him he was there guy.

I'd love to know what Philly and the Lakers had done if the Celtics took Tatum with the 1st pick. Would LA still have taken Lonzo Ball? And if not would the Sixers had been satisfied landing him instead of Fultz as their point guard of the future?

All in all I'm glad it went down the way it did. There's about 5 or 6 guys in this draft class that could very well end up being the best player. The Celtics got one of them and a shot at getting another star in a future draft - win, win. Another hat tip to Trader Danny.


Photo Credit - John Wilcox/Boston Herald

Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkAL401