In retrospect: Did Sixers strike gold in trading up for point guard of the future?


The question being asked by many is if the Sixers would be better with Jayson Tatum or Markelle Fultz? Fultz was graded as the #1 pick in the draft, then the rest of them could be picked in any order. Tatum, originally thought to be anywhere between 4 – 10 and was picked by the Celtics with the pick they acquired in the trade with the Sixers.

The Sixers really gave up nothing in getting Fultz. Either next years Lakers pick or the 2019 Kings pick, that were both picked up in trades. So, they moved up and unloaded a pick that, with their amount of talented young players, would have clogged up a young roster.

So who’s better? Fultz or Tatum?

At 6’8”, Tatum has a 6’11” wingspan and that can create problems as a small forward or shooting guard. He’s a very good athlete who has the ability to become a very good defender if he focuses on it and stops taking plays off on the defensive side of the ball.

Fultz, at 6’5” with a 6’10” wingspan can become a nightmare for point guards and just as much trouble for the shooting guards he would face. Has great vision and passing ability, can create own shot, but is good moving with and without the ball. Coming out, he’s listed as the most complete point guard coming out of college in the last ten years. He also has the ability to become an elite defender at both guard spots.

For the Sixers, who is the better choice?

The team is already heavy on front court players, even with Ben Simmons getting ready to run the point for the team at the start of the season. With Simmons, Joel Embiid, Rashaun Holmes, Amir Johnson, Robert Convington and Dario Saric as the top players up front and still having Justin Anderson in the picture, the Sixers don’t need a small forward. JJ Redick has the two guard spot locked down this year and if things work out, he could be re-signed as the team moves forward. Behind him Nik Stauskas is still trying to find his game and newcomers Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz will be pressing for minutes if Stauskas can’t handle the minutes he’s given. So, the Sixers don’t have a need for a shooting guard either.

Fultz, with the prospect of being the clear cut #1 pick in the draft, as well as being the top point guard in the draft, fits the Sixers need for a premiere point guard for the future. As good as Tatum could become, he doesn’t fit the Sixers team and wouldn’t be starting for the team this year. (As of right now, Fultz isn’t starting either, but that’s going to be more of a benefit for him than a show of how the Sixers view him.)

Tatum is lengthy and ready to make statement in the league and landed with a team that can allow him to do that. The Celtics, originally with Isaiah Thomas and not Kyrie Irving, didn’t really need a point guard and can allow Tatum to blossom in their system now, while playing on a team that is set to be in the Eastern Conference Finals and, in their eyes, the NBA finals this year.

The Sixers are a team that’s still looking toward the future. With no notion of winning a title this year, they’re building a core that will be deadly to the NBA in the next few years. The draft picks that they have picked up for the future as well as those that have been taken in recent years, if they continue to develop and stay healthy, can be the base for a team that will be at the top of the Eastern Conference and hopefully the NBA for a long time. (As soon as Lebron decides to retire, because it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down.)

If you look back at both of them, Fultz was the clear cut #1 pick in the draft for a reason and he’s the best fit for the Sixers team that is building toward an end goal of being a top team for years. I would take Fultz each time this question comes up. The Sixers made the right pick and in a couple of years, no one will be debating who was the right pick for this team.


Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports