Jayson Tatum recently revealed he hoped the Phoenix Suns would select him in the 2017 NBA Draft, and it almost turned into a reality.
Ever since the Phoenix Suns snagged Devin Booker with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, their track record over the past half-decade in drafts has not accumulated much. Big man Deandre Ayton, 2018’s No. 1 overall pick, has looked promising thus far but has been overshadowed due to other stars from that class such as Luka Doncic and Trae Young. However, the team reportedly had a mutual interest with Jayson Tatum before the 2017 draft to pair him with Booker.
Tatum recently appeared on Showtime’s All the Smoke Podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson and shared some never before heard information on his process leading up to the draft. At the time, Tatum had just finished a workout with the Suns and made a decision that he wanted them to select him with their No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft over anyone else that many have been interested in him.
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The weather and possibility of playing with ascending star Devin Booker intrigued Tatum so much that when his agent, Jeff Wechsler, said that the Boston Celtics, who had been the No.1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference, were eying him after trading down to the No. 3 pick, he was not interested whatsoever.
“I’m like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to go to Boston. I like it out here in Phoenix. It’s cool.'”
With giving the Boston Celtics a workout before the draft not an option in Tatum’s mind, his college coach, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, talked his former player into doing so because of their coach Brad Stevens. Having raved over the young coach, Krzyzewski made his best pitch to Tatum to at least give the team a chance.
Reluctantly, Tatum elected to work out for Boston, which ultimately led to them having selected him third in the draft, one spot before the Suns took Josh Jackson. Much like Tatum originally planned to do, Jackson skipped out on a workout for the Boston Celtics before the draft, which certified that they would not consider selecting him.
Would Tatum have suffered the same fate had he followed through and stayed adamant on wanting to be a member of the Phoenix Suns, or could they possibly have drafted him regardless? Either way, Tatum must have stunned the Celtics with his workout and ensured that they would select him with that No. 3 overall pick as they eventually did.
Fast forward almost three years later, and Jayson Tatum is a first time All-Star for the Boston Celtics and Josh Jackson is no longer a member of the Phoenix Suns. While it unfortunately never happened, it would have been mesmerizing to see what this young duo could have accomplished if Tatum and Booker had teamed up in 2017.
Would the team have finally ended their long-awaited postseason drought? Could these two have been one of the NBA’s best young tandems? The answers will forever remain a mystery, unquestionably one of the biggest “what if” scenarios in team history.