Tatum and Fultz will get to start their rivalry early with two preseason showdowns
Top prospects are inevitably compared throughout their careers, but Danny Ainge put the Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum rivalry on another level. The Boston Celtics traded away the top pick, leaving Fultz for the Philadelphia 76ers, as the Celtics took their own top prospect with the third pick.
These two will be compared and contrasted for a generation, and the NBA is wasting no time in getting this rivalry starter. It is the preseason, which ultimately will have no bearing on either of these two careers, but fans will keep an extra eye on these games because of the new narrative.
Preseason is actually somewhat important for the Celtics. With such a big roster turnover and so many young players on the team, they need to use every minute available to establish chemistry, and preseason could play a vital role in establishing what Tatum will be doing on opening day.
The exciting part about preseason is that both Tatum and Fult should be showcased, and they will be playing twice.
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When the regular season comes around, Fultz should be running the show with the 76ers, while Tatum will have to go through a grueling process of earning a role on a top team in the Eastern Conference.
People will still do it, but it will be difficult to compare Fultz and Tatum during the regular season. Tatum will have a much smaller role, but he will also be on a team with better players around him, that can better compliment his skill set.
Fultz will be able to run wild, and showcase what he wants. Tatum will be limited to doing what Stevens needs from him, and believes he can be effective at.
So if you are looking for an excuse to watch preseason games, you should get a fun battle between the two top three picks and, similar to summer league, there could be a lot of the head to head showdowns that may never come in the regular season.
The Celtics are playing half their preseason games against the 76ers, so the NBA is clearly playing into this rivalry, and trying to embrace it while the two players could have a similar role.
While Tatum will certainly have a bigger role, it will still be interesting to see how Stevens uses him. It could be like summer league, where Stevens unleashes Tatum and gives him the freedom to show the coaches what he wants.
The other side is that Stevens may focus more on particulars that he found in summer league. Stevens may already be preparing to find the particular areas he wants Tatum to focus on, and he will limit him in that capacity in the preseason.
The Fultz/Tatum comparisons are here for the long haul, and they are starting early. So you better get ready to embrace these comparisons, because they will be coming and they will not be slowing down after the preseason showdown.