Tatum is a higher level prospect then those guys were and is a significantly higher one than Lewis was. He wasn't a greater prospect then Len Bias though. Real shame what happened to him.
Boston will get better as Hayward's health improves. He still looks like he has a ways to go until his athleticism fully returns, but I'm targeting post all-star break as a time when he can return to a borderline all-star level of play.
great preview of the likely Eastern Conference Finals tonight with Toronto facing Philly. Philly looks like they still have a ways to go until they are ready to knock off the Raptors, but by the end of the season they will probably get there.
If season stopped now, I would have to agree with this but it doesn't and we are getting better and will be in the conference finals. My guess is vs. Raptors. We will beat Sixers again the playoffs to get to that Raptors match up is my guess. Pedigree and Coaching wins almost always...we have the edge in both.
Tatum is the greatest prospect we've had since Bird and I'm hopeful he continues to improve as the season goes on. He SHOULD eventually be an All-NBA level player and that leap can happen rapidly for young players. So it's fair to speculate that, if fully healthy, Boston will have 3 (4 if you include Horford) star-caliber players. At this very moment, we're a 1 star team sitting in the 6th seed.
As the season progresses, I think it's fair to expect Boston to move up to the 4th seed. Maybe 3rd. The 4th seed would be a tough position to be in, though... it would mean facing the Raptors on the road in Round 2 - and home court is probably going to be be significant.
Philly has 3 legitimate all-stars right now. Embiid is on most people's short list as an early MVP favorite. Redick is having a career year as well. This group is still extremely new together - so I'd be curious to see how they look in about 20 games, but from a pure talent standpoint, it's hard to say any team has more top-tier talent than Philly right now. I also think there's another move to be made this season if they want to make it. If I had to guess, it's their conference to lose this season.
I also don't think you can sleep on the Bucks. Giannis is another MVP candidate and Middleton is having an all-star season. They also have surrounded Giannis with guys who can light it up. Middleton shoots 42% from three, Brogdon is shooting 49% from three, Brook Lopez is a sneaky solid addition as he's shooting 37% from three, and Drew Bledsoe is shooting 36% from three. That makes them dangerous - moreso than last year when it's widely believed their coach totally dropped the ball.
I got Boston in the mix as one of the 4 teams capable of making the conference finals, but at present Philly is the logical choice to win the conference. They are going to have to get through Kawhi "New LeBron of the East" Leonard first.
What about McHale? Reggie Lewis? Paul Pierce?
But being a higher lever prospect doesn't mean you will end up a better player or have a better career.
Pierce was projected as a top 3 pick in a really loaded draft. Not sure how we can say Tatum was higher than him. Itís possible it is a wash. I donít know enough about Mchale as a prospect to comment on that one
I absolutely see Tatum as a higher level prospect than Pierce was - and I say this as someone whose favorite player of the modern era is Paul Pierce. That doesn't mean Tatum will end up as good as Pierce got, but his ceiling is significantly higher. Tatum has the potential to be an All-NBA 1st Team level player. Pierce never accomplished that. I loved Pierce. Pierce probably peaked out as a top 15-20 player. He was never really a superstar. Great player. Multi-time all-star. Contributed to an NBA championship. Tatum can be better.
Start by comparing them as College Freshman:
Freshman Pierce: 11.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.8 blocks .419/.304/.606
Freshman Tatum: 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks .452/.342/.849
Tatum's currently averaging 16.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1 steal in 31.3mpg while shooting with 45%/40%/84% shooting. At this point in his career, Paul was still in College as a Junior at Kansas.
Tatum's per-36 as a 20 year old is 18.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals...
You could try comparing that to Paul's rookie season per-36 in which he was a year older: 17.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals 44%/41%/71% shooting ... but even that's a little silly, because by next season Tatum may have made an even greater leap and his numbers as a 21 year old might dwarf 21 year old rookie Paul even more.
That combined with the simple fact that Tatum's length, quickness, ball handling, and athleticism make his ceiling arguably significantly higher than Paul had at the same age. I mean, Tatum's length puts him more on the baby Durant/Dirk spectrum. He has the potential to be absolutely unguardable in the same way those legends were.
As-is, only 4 players in NBA history under the age of 21 have ever averaged 16+ points 5+ rebounds and least 1 three pointer while shooting above 35% from three. Those players are 2nd year LeBron, 2nd year Durant - and both Tatum and Luka Doncic if they keep up their production this season.
Tatum is a legitimate superstar prospect. We haven't had someone with a true superstar ceiling since Bird... maybe Bias if you buy into that, but that dude never suited up for the Celtics. Tatum's the real deal. We're lucky to have him. On a worse team with less talent, he'd easily be averaging 20+ right now. Consider a guy like LeBron during his 2nd season when he played for a .500 squad lacking talent - he averaged 42.7mpg and 21 field goal attempts per game. If you inflate Tatum's current stats from 31 to 43mpg, he's averaging closer to 22 points and 9 rebounds. If you inflate his current shot attempts from 13 to 21, he's averaging [dang] near 26ppg right now. Kid is legit. We got a stud. I still think it's bizarre the tendency some Celtic fans have to underrate this kid and freak out about the tiny mistakes he makes. He's probably the brightest part of our entire franchise right now.
Sixers over Raptors in the Conference Finals is the safe bet.