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NBA execs rank Jayson Tatum 3rd among league sophomores

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League executives prefer Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell over Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Last year’s Rookie of the Year race was fun and close but that’s long over now. We always want to know what’s next and at the same time we always want to look back. So a logical question is “which sophomore player would you rather build around?”

ESPN polled 18 league coaches and executives from around the league and ranked them as follows.

  1. Ben Simmons
  2. Donovan Mitchell
  3. Jayson Tatum
  4. De’Aaron Fox

That list shouldn’t surprise too many people. Simmons is already an All Star, Mitchell and Tatum had postseason success (and regular season growth), and Fox has exploded onto the scene as a Most Improved Player candidate.

What might be of interest are some of the individual evaluations. There are big fans of Tatum around the league, siting his size, well rounded game, and star potential.

On the other hand, it seems there are some doubters out there as well.

Per ESPN

At the other end of the spectrum, though, are those who see a very nice player -- but one who ultimately isn’t going to be the leader of a championship contender. They argue that Tatum might already have reached his peak and might not have a lot of growth left in his game.

”Tatum might be Carmelo [Anthony],” one West executive said. “He needs the ball in his hands.”

”Tatum is a complementary player,” an East executive said.

Ouch.

I’m obviously biased and I’m hoping for the best. But I don’t see where anyone would put him on the “complimentary player” spectrum. If that’s even half true, we should be hoping that Danny Ainge finds a way to put him into a theoretical Anthony Davis trade and eventually remember him fondly the way we do Al Jefferson.

I don’t see it though. I’ve seen steady progress from Tatum which doesn’t always translate in box scores or advanced stats. I think as he matures he’s going to continue to refine his game through a superior work ethic and attitude. In short, I see him as a cornerstone franchise player. But hey, I could be wrong.

What do you think? Is he ranked fairly in that group? What’s his most likely career arc?