OPUS Mag

Far from timid • Caveat Lector

Celtics NEED to Keep the #1 Pick & Draft Markelle Fultz

Celtics NEED to Keep the #1 Pick & Draft Markelle Fultz

Man, what a great past 48 hours to be a Celtics fan. After having my heart ripped out in a Chicago club by John Wall in Game 6, we've had the best 2 days as a franchise in recent memory. I know I should probably be sitting here talking about the series against the Cavs that starts tonight (we're winning Game 1 by the way) but all of my excitement lies in the fact that we actually won the lottery. After decades of bad luck in the lottery (most notably in 1997 missing out on Tim Duncan and 2007 missing out on Kevin Durant) we finally had the ping pong balls drop our way. And I wouldn't have had it any other way than having our rivals, the LA Lakers, come in right behind us at #2. You'll see a lot of speculation about what we'll do with the pick and rumors about how we might trade it for Jimmy Butler or Paul George. But I've had a consistent stance on this from jump and I'm about 95% positive Boston's front office agrees with me: we need to keep the pick and draft Markelle Fultz.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fultz or have never seen him play, you're going to be introduced sooner rather than later. The Washington Huskies were basically the Brooklyn Nets of college hoops, so his games were never televised. But if you did happen to see him play, what you saw was an 18 year old kid who plays years ahead of his time. In a day and age where the NBA is dominated by versatile guards and wings, spread pick and roll sets, and the ability to score from anywhere on the floor, Fultz checks off all of the boxes you look for in an NBA Prospect. He's 6'5" and can play either the 1 or the 2, is the best pick and roll point guard BY FAR in the draft, and has absolutely no weaknesses in his game. He's about as close as you can get to a sure thing. I'm a big fan of Lonzo Ball and the whole Ball family as well, but he'll get abused early on defensively because of his thin frame and he has essentially no mid-range game. I'm serious; all of his buckets are either dunks or three pointers. Ball is destined for Hollywood anyways, it's the perfect fit.

People think that just because we're going to draft a Point Guard that it means moving on from IT but they couldn't be more wrong. Fultz and IT have both already spoke extensively about playing alongside each other, and the two former Huskies guards have formed a relationship dating back to last summer so there's no bad blood there. Not only that, but both of them can play off the ball if need be. There have also been concerns about a #1 pick coming in and joining a Conference Finals team and how that could potentially stunt his growth. But if you know Brad Stevens you know that he's going to play the best players, no matter how old they are. We just had our 20 year old rookie Jaylen Brown play 20 HUGE minutes in a Game 7 a couple of days ago. Fultz will come in and be able to contribute right away.

When you get the #1 pick in the draft, you almost NEVER trade it. Not only do you control the draft board and have full leverage in all trade talks, but you have the option of selecting a transcendent player and having him play under a rookie pay scale for 5 years before his max salary kicks in. Why would we trade this pick for possibly 1 more year of PG or 2 more years of Jimmy Butler, both of which are already halfway through their careers? At the beginning of the season, my ideal situation was for us to draft Fultz, sign Gordon Hayward in free agency, and build a sustained contender for a very long time. With Brooklyn's first round pick coming to us next year as well, Danny Ainge is simultaneously contending for championships while also building a powerhouse for the future. Markelle played at Dematha Catholic High School in Maryland, 10 minutes down the road from my crib out here in DC and literally right across the street from my sister's house. How I've never seen him play in person, I have no idea. But I'm planning on seeing a potent backcourt of former Washington Huskies for years to come.

But tonight, it's all about giving Bron his first L in the playoffs. If we can complete the trifecta of a Game 7 win, a lottery win, and a Game 1 ECF win, you can't tell me shit until…Friday when we lose Game 2.

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