Tatum besting Ball and Fultz
Phil Zoppi – Sports Editor
All the talk during the offseason was about Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, but another rookie is outplaying both of them early on.
Jayson Tatum is the clear front-runner for rookie of the year and has helped the Boston Celtics get off to a great start in 2017. Tatum is averaging 13.8 points per game to go along with 6.6 rebounds per game.
The 6’8” power forward is anything but a low post player. Tatum has the ability to stroke the three ball, as he is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc so far. That percentage will surely go down, but Tatum proved he could hit from distance at Duke University. That part of his game has certainly translated to the pros.
Tatum was not projected to be the best rookie of this class, but Fultz and Ball have disappointed early on. Fultz has had some serious troubles at the free throw line as well as a nagging shoulder injury that does not seem like it is going away anytime soon. Ball has shown flashes, but looks like he might not be able to score at the rate he did in college at the NBA level. If there was a redraft today, it is likely Tatum goes before one if not both of them.
Tatum has also benefited by being drafted into a much better situation than Ball and Fultz did. Ball is looked at to be the primary ball handler for bad Lakers team and Fultz can’t seem to find a role on a still very young 76ers team. The Celtics are built to win now and, with Gordon Hayward’s sustaining an injury, Tatum is looked at to be on the primary scorers on top echelon team.
The Hayward injury was unfortunate for the Celtics, but this gives Tatum a chance to thrive and put up numbers that no one expected him to put up this early on. There is still a lot of basketball to be played in their respective careers, but for right now it looks like Tatum is besting Ball and Fultz.