REPORT: Ex-Suns coach admits desire to draft Jayson Tatum in 2017
The 2017 NBA Draft was absolutely packed with talent. Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum went first to third respectively, while guys like De’Aaron Fox, Jonathan Isaac, Lauri Markkanen, Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo and John Collins — among others — were all part of the Top 20 picks.
As it turns out though, the Phoenix Suns, who selected Josh Jackson at the fourth spot, had a legitimate shot at trading up for the third overall pick in order to get their hands on Tatum. Former head coach Earl Watson himself detailed the botched plan, which apparently did not get the green light from the higher-ups.
“I was pushing Tatum,” Watson said, via Jay King of The Athletic. “Like, we had to move up for Tatum, we had to get Tatum. And ownership chose Josh Jackson. … I knew the two players were dynamically different, but my vision was what’s the best fit for Devin Booker. Booker and Tatum, I think a combination like that right now would have been completely different than anything in the NBA at that age.”
Jackson, whom the Suns traded last summer to the Memphis Grizzlies, remains to be a promising prospect. However, there is no denying that in hindsight, Tatum would have been the better option between the two.
What makes this narrative more interesting is the fact that Tatum himself wanted to join the Suns. Talking to Justin Quinn of USA Today, the Boston Celtics All-Star admitted that he initially did not want to join the Beantown team.
“I’m like, ‘I’m not trying to hear that. I want to go to Phoenix,'” Jayson Tatum said about the Celtics inviting him for a pre-draft workout. “My agent was like, ‘Just think about it.’ And then, we hang up. I’m like, ‘I’m not going to this workout. Like, I’m cool.'”
Phoenix had a golden opportunity in their hands, but for some reason, they opted not to pull the trigger. It is quite amazing to imagine a Devin Booker-Jayson Tatum pairing, but as it seems, this is something that will remain to be a fantasy.