Jayson Tatum says the Celtics were always going to pick him at No. 1

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 09:  Jayson Tatum #11 of the Boston Celtics walks on the court during a 2017 Summer League game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 9, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boston won 70-64. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum walks on the court during a 2017 Summer League game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boston won 70-64. –Ethan Miller/Getty Images

After Jayson Tatum’s stellar Summer League play, it might be hard for Celtics fans to fathom a reality without the forward on the team.

Leading up to the NBA Draft, however, there was a time where it appeared that Boston would use the top pick to select Markelle Fultz out of Washington. While the Celtics ultimately traded the No. 1 overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the No. 3 slot and a future first-round pick, Tatum is confident the team would have picked him regardless.

“The Celtics were always going to pick me at No. 1,” he said on a podcast Tuesday.

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He explained the situation further:

Philly didn’t know that. Philly thought Boston was going to pick Markelle, so Philly traded the pick and gave Boston a pick for next year. So Boston was like, ‘Well, we can still get the player we want, a next year’s pick, and then we get the player we wanted for less money.’ So Boston still got all that they wanted, and Philly had to give up something. But Philly didn’t know that Boston was going to pick me, so that’s why they traded up.

Tatum’s analysis aligns with Danny Ainge’s comments following the trade with the 76ers in June.

Ainge said in a conference call: “We think there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at three is the same player we would have taken at one.”