NBA Mock Draft: Breaking Down The 3rd Pick

Well, it’s pretty much official — this is the most lit week in NBA history. We’ve got big names and young talents and assets on the move like it’s nothing, and top names all across the league being mentioned in trade rumors. This is going to be one fun draft, and you can catch all the rumors and live reaction on DraftKings’ Facebook Live on Thursday night starting at 6:30 PM EST.

This NBA mock draft series will be broken down into five parts — picks 7-10, picks 4-6, and then individual features on my projected top three picks. Each article will give a breakdown on the players I project will be drafted in that spot, as well as what their fantasy outlook would be if they were drafted in that position. The Boston Celtics are on the clock!

With the 3rd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select …

Jayson Tatum, Forward, Duke (Freshman)

2016-17 averages: 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks

I’m not even convinced the Celtics are standing pat at No. 3 after moving down from No. 1 overall at this point. Kristaps Porzingis, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and more could be on the market, teams are giving away young studs to shed themselves of salary … in short, Thursday night is going to be mayhem. And we should all be thankful for it.

If the Celtics keep the pick, my gut says it’s to draft Tatum. I’ll admit, I’ve grown up a Celtics fan, and Tatum is my guy in this draft. I don’t think I’m giving myself what I want, though.

Then again, Danny Ainge may like Josh Jackson. Or maybe Jonathan Isaac. Or, hell, even freaking Dennis Smith Jr. Ainge is damn good at not revealing his hand.

It’s time to add another go-to scorer to this team, though, and Tatum is just that. This kid reminds me a little bit of Jabari Parker coming out for a recent comparison, minus the knee injuries (hopefully). Tatum is more athletic but shares the skill to score all over the floor. Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce aren’t far-fetched comparisons.

Tatum comes with an NBA-ready body and a ton of NBA-ready skills. He has handles for his size and should be able to get away at both forward positions. He’s a solid rebounder as well, but the key to his transition is obviously his scoring. The only offensive aspect he needs to grow more is getting consistent from NBA range. He’ll need the 3-pointer in his game like he had in college.

The knock on Tatum is that he’s a little bit of a “tweener” — too slow to cover smaller wings, not big enough to bang down low. Fortunately, this is the new NBA, so finding a role shouldn’t be too difficult. I feel he’ll find a way to develop his offensive game the way he needs to. Tatum’s real struggle is on the defensive end. He can really get lazy and simply get lost on defense — which isn’t something the Celtics have been willing to spend a draft pick on lately (Smart/Rozier/Brown). The hope would be that Tatum can buy in because athletically he should be able to be a solid defender in theory.

So how does Tatum fit in Boston? Well, that’s a great question because this team did just go to the Eastern Conference Finals, albeit in a weak conference where everyone knew they had no chance to advance to the finals.

Pending further moves from the C’s, Tatum would come off the bench just like last year’s No. 3 overall pick, Jaylen Brown. But both of these kids would be heavily in the mix as Boston builds towards the future. Tatum’s fantasy impact would be extremely hard to trust anytime early in the season, but I could see him being relevant in the second half of the season. Unlike Brown, Tatum is much more ready to get a bucket on his own as a rookie, which this team needs when Isaiah Thomas is on the bench (and even for relief when IT’s on the floor). Tatum’s long-term impact could be elite, but you’ll have to wait it out this season for any potential contributions as a rookie.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.

For a breakdown of picks 4-6, click here.

For a breakdown of picks 7-10, click here.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.