Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge must be feeling like a criminal mastermind right now. Years after a trade that sent Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets, Boston is still reaping rewards via the Nets’ picks. Boston now sits atop the Eastern Conference (following the Cavs’ loss to the Spurs Monday night). And yet, they’re still in the best position to land the number 1 pick in the draft. If they’re fortunate, they’ll have their pick of the lot between Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz.
There’s just one dilemma, however: The Boston Celtics are already loaded in the PG position.
Both Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz are incredible point guards, with strong potential to becomes new faces of a franchise. However, they’ve already got Isaiah Thomas leading the way, with Marcus Smart performing admirably as a back-up. Should the Celtics simply pick the best the prospect in the draft? Or should they draft according to their need?
The Pick of the Lot
The first option – the recommended one, given the upside – is to simply go after the top prospect in the draft, regardless of the team’s needs. So the question is, who is it?
A good majority of sources – such as SB Nation and CBS Sports – are pegging Fultz to get the number one overall pick. He’s been called the Karl-Anthony Towns of point guards – able to do everything, athletic for his size, no real holes in his game. And you can never go wrong with a PG who can shift between unselfish playmaker to scoring weapon.
But a few others, such as Fox Sports, make a case for Lonzo Ball as a first pick. Ball’s basketball IQ has been touted as one of his biggest strengths, but when you throw in impressive passing and a deadly three-point shot, you’ve got a clear winner as well. Boston drafting Lonzo Ball would also produce one hell of a storyline – his father Lavar has thus far been lobbying for him to go to their archrival Los Angeles Lakers.
Imagine how it would look for the Celtics to draw the first pick and snatch him away from LA. Or, better yet, imagine if LA gets the first pick and gets Fultz instead, leaving Boston to get Lonzo. That would put an enormous chip on his shoulder.
The verdict? One simply doesn’t give up talent, whether they “fit” the team or not. By all accounts, if Boston lands the top pick, they will get a point guard. Most likely it willl be Fultz, unless the majority of pundits get it wrong. In that case, just expect Boston 3rd-stronger PG Terry Rozier to be traded or waived.
Just to entertain the idea that the Celtics are content with their backcourt, expect them to grab Josh Jackson instead. Jackson is an athletic swingman who can play defense. But more than that, he fits the flavor of player that Danny Ainge clearly prefers: hard-nosed, hard-working, and all about the hustle and defense.
If the Celtics simply decide that they can move forward with Thomas and Smart, then Jackson could be the new guy in green. That may leave LA, Philadephia, and Phoenix scrambling for Fultz and Ball.
Any predictions for the 2017 draft? Let’s hear them!