Everyone assumes the Celtics will take Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the draft . . . but what if they don't? What if they turn to another of the prospects? This week, we'll look at some of the players who might interest the Celtics in that 'What if?' scenario: TODAY: Kentucky's DeAaron Fox.
BOSTON -- The narrative on De'Aaron Fox is that his speed will kill foes at the next level. Not since John Wall, another Kentucky product, have we seen a player come into the NBA with the kind of end-to-end speed Fox possesses.
And to his credit, Fox’s speed game was at its best when it mattered -- the NCAA tournament -- in helping lead the Wildcats to the Elite 8 with an impressive 39-point performance over UCLA and their heralded freshman point guard Lonzo Ball, who, like Fox, will be a lottery (top-14) pick on June 22.
While it remains a long shot that the Celtics will consider him with the top overall pick, he remains a player who should stay on the Celtics’ radar.
INSTEAD OF FULTZ, WHAT IF CELTICS DRAFT . . .
We’ve talked about his speed forever, showing the ability to get to pretty much any spot he wants to on the floor.
But what I really love about this kid is his compete level.
He was one of the best players on a loaded Kentucky team all season, but stepped his game up when faced with arguably the best point guard in the country -- UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.
Fox didn’t just hold his own; he owned Ball that night by scoring 39 points and most important, getting the Wildcats the victory.
You don’t judge a player on just one game, obviously. But when the body of work was as solid as his was in his lone season in Kentucky, and he stepped his game up like that in such a big, high-profile matchup, that’s the kind of player you want on your team if you’re looking to eventually compete for a title -- a goal of this Celtics franchise, for sure.
However, he has his flaws -- the kind that NBA scouts take into account when evaluating where a prospect stands in the team’s pecking order leading up to the draft.
Here’s one scout’s impressions on Fox:
“All you hear about is his speed getting to the basket. But you never hear about how that speed creates space for those around him. Malik Monk is a good shooter, but he wouldn’t be talked about as being a lottery pick if it wasn’t for the space that Fox creates just by the threat of him attacking the rim.”
“He made getting to the rim look so easy at Kentucky. The NBA has better athletes, but he’s just too quick to keep from getting into the paint. The problem he’s going to have is finishing. He’s not all that creative when he gets to the rim because up until now, he didn’t have to be. He’s too skinny to come in to the NBA scoring at the rim. And we know his jumpshot . . . it is what it is. You hear all the time about kids needing to get stronger when they come into the NBA. With him, it’s legit. He’s not strong enough to come in and go to the hole and finish against NBA bigs. And his shooting from the outside isn’t good enough or consistent enough.”
“He’s a lottery pick for sure. I felt that way even before he lit up UCLA in the tournament. He has a skill, his speed, that sets him apart from everyone else in a good way. Obviously, there are other parts of his game that he needs to work on like defense, but he’s a good player; one of the better players in this draft class for sure.”