Projected first overall pick Markelle Fultz is the hottest prospect right now and has teams fighting over the chance to draft him.
No one has physically fought yet, but wouldn’t a Danny Ainge–Magic Johnson undercard on McGregor-Mayweather be a spectacle? I don’t condone fighting, but the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers have been mentioned in rumors together about potential packages concerning Boston’s first overall pick that they got, courtesy of Billy King and the Brooklyn Nets.
We know how good Fultz is. This is a loaded draft class, but he’s one of the few guys with bona fide star potential. There isn’t anything he can’t do on the floor, and Fultz has all the physicals to match.
Philly kicked the action off, and Marc Stein and Zach Lowe reported that they and the Celtics were in “serious talks.” The Sixers would build a package around the third pick, and Lowe added that Boston wouldn’t get any players in the deal. Now, the conspiracy theorists come out — what if the Celtics are getting more assets to trade for Jimmy Butler. Well… that might happen, courtesy of Adam Zagoria and a league source. Jonathan Wasserman then built on what Zagoria said, noting that it may turn into a three-team deal with Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia that sees Butler, Jahlil Okafor and a slew of picks trade places. My head hurts trying to keep up with this.
Hearing this could wind up being a 3-team trade between Philadelphia-Boston-Chicago including Butler, Okafor and lots of picks https://t.co/D6QcLkFRZZ
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) June 17, 2017
As I took a few Advil to ease the throbbing, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reported that Fultz “murdered” his workout with the Lakers. That’s a strong adjective. He followed that up by saying Magic is “in love” with the consensus number one pick. Los Angeles is now in the mix with trying to trade up and select Fultz, and Magic isn’t shy about giving up the pieces he has to get it. In his eyes, Brandon Ingram is the only untouchable, and a package centered around Julius Randle and the second overall pick could be offered to Ainge and the Celtics. All of this could be smoke in mirrors.
The scariest outcome would be a Fultz-Ben Simmons–Joel Embiid superteam — which is only attainable if the latter two stay healthy. We know what those three can do, and all of them have the ability to impact the game without putting the ball in the basket. Embiid and Fultz showed promise on the defensive end of the floor and Simmons was arguably the best playmaker in his class. More importantly, they have time to improve. The construction of that team is for the future, whereas Boston is looking to contend right now by turning their assets into Jimmy Butler or Gordon Hayward. LeBron James has the conference on lock until further notice, but even he’s going to slow down at some point. In four years, he’ll be 36. As superhuman as James is, I don’t see him being this dominant in his late 30s. By then, the trio will be entering their primes and, realistically, all of them could be All-Stars. I’m shook just writing about it.
Los Angeles is an attractive spot for Fultz because they don’t have a concrete plan in place, but they’re on the right track. Luke Walton knows he needs to take this rebuild slowly. If they executed the trade and shipped Randle off to Beantown, the Lakers trio is Fultz, Ingram and D’Angelo Russell (with Jordan Clarkson). It’s not as intimidating as Philly’s but could make some noise. Furthermore, they’re in the same boat with the Golden State Warriors that the Sixers are with the Cavs. Eventually, that superteam is going to dissolve, and the Lakers will be close to reaching their full potential. Ingram started to figure himself out as 2017 came to an end, and Russell has been a productive player despite being overshadowed by some off-court drama. Fultz only makes their offense more potent, but he also gives them a perimeter defender. It’s hard to build an elite defense without someone in the middle, but you have to start somewhere.
Anything is possible. For the most part, these teams don’t have anything to lose by making (or not making) this deal. Boston will still be able to make a run at a marquee free agent this summer. The Sixers and the Lakers will have their cores intact.
If nothing happens, that’s fine too. The Celtics will be able to pair Fultz in the backcourt alongside Isaiah Thomas with minimal issues. Los Angeles will still be able to pick either Lonzo Ball or Josh Jackson, who the organization has raved highly of. If Ball’s gone, Philadelphia will take Jackson and vice versa. Or maybe they’ll surprise us and take Jayson Tatum or De’Aaron Fox. It’s going to be very hard to screw up this draft.
It’s vital you take all of these reports with a grain of salt. Nothing is set in stone, and it won’t be until Adam Silver calls that prospect’s name.
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