The Boston Celtics have the rights to switch 1st round picks with the Brooklyn Nets in the upcoming NBA draft. They also own Brooklyn’s 2018 selection. The Celtics are already an NBA contender. Alright, now that you have a big grin on your face, let’s talk about the preferred options for this years Brooklyn pick.
Markelle Fultz is the most offensively polished prospect I have seen since Damian Lilliard or Michael Beasley. Of course, we all know the former is the star for the Portland Trailblazers and the latter had potential but a mound of character issues. He has the size of a combo guard at 6’4 with a 6’10 wingspan.
Fultz is electrifying. He can score anywhere on the court whether he has a man in his face or not. His baseline-to-baseline speed is phenomenal. One of his underrated qualities is being able to handle the ball well while maintaining his speed. Fultz has the work ethic and attitude needed to ensure he lives up to his mountain-high potential.
Fultz averaged 24 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds for the Washington Huskies this season before suffering a minor knee injury that ended his freshman campaign. Those numbers are impressive as is, but dig deeper and you’ll realize just how impressive they are. The Washington Huskies were a paltry 9-22 this season. Fultz was the lone bright spot on an otherwise weak team. Opposing teams could throw multiple defenders at Fultz due to the lack of support around him. Fultz averaged these numbers while having four to six eyes on him at all times. He’s a can’t miss prospect.
The thought of pairing Fultz with superstar Isaiah Thomas should more than intrigue us fans. Ainge is probably already in his office drooling at the possibility as you read this. It doesn’t matter that they are both point guards, because Fultz has plenty of size to play the two-guard.
The Celtics guard sounded more than okay with adding Fultz to the already loaded Celtics backcourt. "I can play with anybody," Thomas said. "I can play off the ball, I can come off screens, I can catch and shoot. So I think that's, even going back to college, my first couple of years I was off the ball. And then I can play on the ball as well. So a lot of guys can't do both, but I'm fine with doing both." Having Thomas and Fultz on the floor at the same time would create instant offense. Fultz’s 6’10” wingspan gives him defensive potential as well. Imagine a lineup of Thomas, Fultz, Brown, Crowder, and Horford with Smart, Bradley, Rozier, Zizic, and Yabusele coming off the bench.
Adding Fultz to the Celtics would be a great step towards banner number 18.
Lonzo Ball is also a point guard, but he can play the two-guard about as well as anyone. His 6’6 frame will allow him to defend two or possibly three positions. Ball is an extremely fun player to watch. He’s a master of the exciting play. He can hit three-pointers from far beyond the three-point-line. His passing should be hyped the same way Ben Simmons’ was. His long and lanky body usually results in a few electrifying dunks or blocks in a game. He is not the most explosive athlete, but he has the ability to throw down thunderous dunks and get well over the rim.
Ball completely revolutionized a UCLA offense that struggled to create baskets last season. Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game this season. He’s a threat to score anytime he touches the ball, but can create shots for others just as well.
He is not as offensively polished as Fultz, so his fit alongside Thomas would be questioned more, but I don’t think it would be a problem. Ball will struggle with contested shots due to his unorthodox release, but his range is limitless and his release is quick. He will adapt to find open shots. Having him alongside the smaller Thomas would be great for defense as well. Ball has the offensive and defensive potential and versatility that Ainge covets.
He would be a great addition to a Celtics team looking to overtake the Cavaliers and Wizards for the best team in the conference.
Imagine this, Josh Jackson, Jaylen Brown, and Jae Crowder on the same basketball court. It could happen, folks. Josh Jackson is one of the most athletic players in this years draft. He has the ability to defend three or four positions, and do it well. Jackson’s development with the Kansas Jayhawks this season has been more than encouraging. The 6’8” wing shot an impressive 51 percent from the field and 37.7 percent from deep.
Like Jaylen Brown, Jackson will need to work on his free throw shooting. He gets to the line over five times per game but made only 56 percent of those tries. He’s somewhat raw, but improving rapidly. He could have the chance to develop very well alongside Jaylen Brown, and it would give the Celtics two very talented wings for years to come. Having both them and Crowder would help neutralize the size and defensive liability of Isaiah Thomas.
Adding Jackson would be a positive step in dethroning the Cavaliers. Jackson has the size to guard a player like Lebron James. Brad Stevens is the perfect coach to help realize Jackson’s potential; both offensively and defensively. The Celtics love versatility, so Jackson is an ideal cog that’ll fit in the Celtics machine.
Jackson won’t be the Celtics first choice, but if the Brooklyn pick drops they wouldn’t hesitate to select him.
Dennis Smith Jr.
Russell Westbrook. John Wall. Dennis Smith? Maybe. One thing’s for sure, this dude is freakishly athletic. The 6’3 Freshman from NC State averaged 18 points, 6 assists, and almost 5 rebounds in his lone season at school. Like Fultz, Smith was a diamond in the rough for his school. NC State underwhelmed with a 15-17 record this season. Smith doesn’t have the jump shot of Fultz or the playmaking of Ball, but he’s still talented enough to build a team around. Smith’s ability to explode to the basket and finish with ease will entice many teams with a need for a guard. He’s smaller and has a shorter wingspan than Fultz, so his fit with the Celtics would be questionable unless a trade happened. Smith could be a fit if either Bradley, Smart, or Rozier were to be traded this offseason.
If Smith were to be drafted by the Celtics, Rozier would be the ideal trade out. Smith’s game compares well to Rozier’s but Smith has a higher ceiling. His explosiveness reminds me a lot of Eric Bledsoe. If he can stay healthy and develop a consistent mid-range and three-point jump shot, he could be an All Star.
If the Celtics were to draft Smith, the possibility would remain of a draft night trade. He could be included in a package if the Celtics were to try to land an established star.
I was tempted to go with Jayson Tatum here, but Isaac gets the nod due to his fit and ability to play both the four and the five. Isaac’s defensive potential is almost as high as his offensive potential. Isaac is 6’10, but can score and facilitate from all parts of the floor. He could be a pick-and-roll / pick-and-pop nightmare with Isaiah Thomas. He needs to bulk up a little but, but he’s young and has time to get stronger. Isaac will be able to defend well from the perimeter all the way to the basket.
Isaac is the type of player that Stevens loves. He would utilize his matchup very well alongside Al Horford. The Boston Celtics love to facilitate through Al Horford. Jonathan Isaac has the potential be a very solid facilitator. Having two options to run post offense through would help create open shots for the Celtics’ shooters.
His offensive and defensive potential, size, and versatility make him an intriguing option. Stevens could do a lot with Isaac, and the youngster would have the chance to be mentored by Al Horford. If the Celtics decided to let Kelly Olynyk go and the Brooklyn pick drops, Isaac could be a great option for the guys in green,