Sixers draft targets: Should Philly avoid Duke’s Jayson Tatum?

2017 NBA Mock Draft Josh Jackson Tatum
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The options for the Sixers at No. 3 overall are vast and varied. There are a multitude of different directions the team could decide to go.

They can take a true point guard like De’Aaron Fox, a true shooter like Malik Monk or a flashy forward like Josh Jackson.

They could also go for perhaps the best pure athlete with the best raw potential in the draft by selecting Duke’s Jayson Tatum.

Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown is and always has been a defense-first coach. It appears that Tatum is the best defender in the draft, elusive and quick at 6-foot-8, 204 pounds but with a long, 6-foot-11 wingspan. He excelled in Duke’s defensive scheme and proved he could defend in both the post and on the perimeter.

He netted 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game for Mike Krzyzewski during his one season with the Blue Devils, and was able to get to the basket with ease during key stretches of a freshman 28-9 campaign.

The drawback for Philly, of course, is that he sort of fits the mold of the Sixers’ pick last year — Ben Simmons.

Both Simmons and Tatum will need the ball in their hands to be effective and that could be an issue if the Sixers’ plan to hand the keys of their offense over to Simmons, who is bigger at 6-foot-10.

One of Duke’s assistant coaches, Jon Scheyer, told a website covering the Phoenix Suns that Tatum was an obsessive basketball player focused intently on becoming better, and really nothing else. He broke down his former player this way:

“The thing he would struggle with is because he knew he could create, he wasn’t comfortable right away just catching and shooting,” Scheyer said. “He was always more comfortable off the bounce, putting it on the floor and then going and creating his shot because he could do that. I think that will be an adjustment for him … being ready to shoot, catching and being ready to shoot.”

Sound familiar?

Philly wants to surround Joel Embiid and Simmons with scorers — and yes, shooters — so Tatum could be a bad fit in Philly as the team is currently constructed. But you never know. There is huge upside in gambling on a raw talent like Tatum and Philly has never been shy to gamble with it’s draft picks. Just ask Sam Hinkie.

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