Who should I draft in the first round of my fantasy basketball draft? That is a question all fantasy basketball managers are asking themselves leading up to the opening of the 2022 NBA season and it is not something that should be overlooked. While it is just one pick, it is the first one and ultimately sets the tone for both the remainder of your draft and the season as a whole. Under that guise, let us take a look at a very real decision you could potentially be forced to make in the first round of your draft between two dynamic and potentially polarizing players; Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and James Harden of the Philadelphia 76ers. 



Why You Should Draft Jayson Tatum

It is unclear how the coaching drama regarding Ime Udoka will impact Tatum and the Celtics, but let us assume that it will not. Boston promoted Joe Mazzulla to the head spot so there should be a level of continuity, and at this point, Tatum has proven to be immune to any changes on the bench. 

The forward is entering his sixth season in the NBA and one thing we do not have to worry about is durability as not only has Tatum only missed five games in his career, but he averaged 36 minutes per game last year. Tatum hit career highs across the board in the 2021-22 campaign with 26.9 points, eight rebounds, and 4.4 rebounds per game while also being efficient both from the field (45.9%) and free throw line (85.3%). 

What we saw from Tatum last season will be hard to top, but the addition of Malcolm Brogdon should only serve to benefit him as it is hard to find flaws in his game. There is nothing he does not do well, and while Boston might work a little harder to manage his workload, I am not sure it will be anything noticeable as there is no questioning who the number one option is in Boston. 

Why You Should Draft James Harden

Harden can be a walking triple-double. There are few players with Harden’s prolific and well-rounded skill set, and when all is going right for the star, we have no reason not expect said triple-double on a nightly basis as he is simply that good. 

Last season was a mess in every sense of the word for Harden as he demanded a trade yet again and ended up in Philadelphia alongside Joel Embiid. The guard appeared to take to Philadelphia and actually signed a two-year contract extension to stay with the 76ers at less than maximum value. 

Even with everything seemingly being a disaster for Harden, he still managed to average 22 points, 10.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game. That production is difficult to argue with as the only blemish was seeing his field goal percentage drop to 41% although he did maintain an 87.7% mark from the free-throw line. Over the past two seasons, we have seen Harden’s success from the three-point line drop from over four per game to just 2.3 last year, but the guard certainly fills up the stat sheet. 


While we always want to draft for the present, I feel a lot more comfortable going with the youth in Tatum here over the 33-year-old Harden. Durability has proven to be an issue for Harden, and even as he looks to start out the year strong, we do have to worry about his health and overall stamina throughout the season. When things are good, they are good, but the decreasing efficiency from the field is concerning here and the last two years have been a little rough for Harden. That does not mean he is still not worthy of being a first-round pick, as the risk (and perhaps reward) is higher here, but I prefer the security of Tatum as it appears he settles in at the top of the mountain.