Danny Ainge received a lot of criticism from those who were set on taking Markelle Fultz when he traded away the number one pick in the 2017 draft to the Philadelphia 76ers for the third overall pick and future draft selections.
Now that the dust has settled, third overall pick Jayson Tatum has exceeded expectations and become a young star that many believe has the potential of being a franchise talent.
On the flip side, Fultz has been sidelined for the majority of this season, only playing in four games. In those games, he averaged 6.0 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on just 33.3 percent shooting.
In contrast, Tatum is averaging just shy of 14 points per game, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.
Furthermore, the 19-year-old is doing so on 49.8 percent shooting and a lethal 46.2 percent from beyond the arc. In addition to his offensive play, his work on the defensive side of the court hasn’t been too shabby, either.
— Celtics Stats (@celtics_stats) January 7, 2018
What’s perhaps most impressive is that Tatum is putting up remarkable stats while also being a member of the Boston Celtics who have a league-high 33 wins.
All of this added up would normally be enough for the Duke University product to take home the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
Unfortunately, he will need to somehow step it up even more, and also hope for Ben Simmons to decline drastically over the remaining half of the year if he wants to claim that title.
Simmons was drafted first overall in 2016, but due to an injury never played in an NBA game during his true rookie year. This allows his 2017-18 campaign to count as his first season, and the 21-year-old is putting on a show that may be impossible to top. Over 35.5 minutes, he boasts 16.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game.
Simmons is a huge part of Philadelphia seeing any sort of success this year, and is also the epitome of the point-forward position. He has the length and power of a forward, but the vision and quickness of a guard.
The Louisiana State University product is a matchup nightmare who also demonstrates the ability to completely take over a game, and that is why he will ultimately ruin anyone’s shot at taking the award away from him.