Philadelphia 76ers Pass up on Markelle Fultz in 2017 NBA Re-Draft

Justin Grasso

The 2017 NBA Draft was a critical one for the Philadelphia 76ers. In two out of the previous three years, the Sixers landed prospects who were for sure going to become cornerstone players for the franchise in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

In 2017, the team had hopes of gaining its third after missing with Jahlil Okafor in 2015. At the time, Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz was the consensus first pick in the draft. Fultz had ideal size and athleticism -- but he possessed the primary skill the Sixers needed -- somebody who could consistently create their own shot.

Initially, the Sixers had the third pick that year, but the team's General Manager at the time, Bryan Colangelo, took a gamble and swapped spots with the Boston Celtics. Fultz was Philly bound, and the city was on a high, knowing they were drafting the NBA's best player. Or so, that's what everybody thought at the time.

By now, everybody knows the Markelle Fultz experiment with the 76ers didn't work out. The story is strange, and so many factors went into Fultz's demise with the Sixers. In less than two years, the organization bit the bullet and traded away the pick they spent a lot on for little return. 

While Fultz is doing much better in Orlando, he's still not precisely first-pick material. And since the Sixers couldn't really get much out of him in a season and a half, it doesn't take an expert to figure out they probably would've taken a different player with the first-overall pick that year. So in a 2017 NBA Re-Draft from Bleacher Report, the 76ers instead take Boston Celtics emerging star, Jayson Tatum. 

The All-Star forward wasn't a star right off the bat, but he was good enough to start 80 games while averaging 30 minutes-per-game during his rookie season. By year three, Tatum has transformed into one of the best young players in the game. 

[RELATED: Should the 76ers Give the Current Roster Another Shot?]

In 59 games this season, Tatum has averaged 23 points in 34 minutes-per-game. Not only is he a stellar two-way player, but he's also been relatively healthy and available throughout his first three seasons in the NBA. 

The Sixers aren't desperate for Jayson Tatum three years later, but they sure would be a lot better had they drafted him instead. Also, for reference, Fultz dropped to pick No. 18 in the re-draft and landed with the Indiana Pacers. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_

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