If Celtics pass on Fultz, will they go Fox-hunting?

If Celtics pass on Fultz, will they go Fox-hunting?

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.


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.”


Celtics falter in fourth, Davis dominates

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics falter in fourth, Davis dominates

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 108-89 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. 


Anthony Davis: The Boston Celtics had no answer for how to contain Anthony Davis who got anything and everything he wanted, all game. He finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 14-for-24 from the field.



Jayson Tatum: The Celtics didn’t get many players who elevated their play against the Pelicans, but Tatum did. He led the team with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting. 

Rajon Rondo: It was vintage Rondo – few points, lots of assists and with that, a huge impact. The former Celtics All-Star had 11 assists with just one turnover, to go with four points.

Marcus Morris: He finished with 17 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Morris prides himself on an inside-outside scorer, but he really should have focused more on his 3-point shot when you consider he was 5-for-7 from 3-point range. 

Cheick Diallo: You're always suspect of a player you rarely heard of putting up big numbers in a blowout. But let’s be clear: Diallo’s scoring was on display when Sunday’s game was relatively competitive. He would finish with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. 



Fourth Quarter Celtics: It was a dismal stretch of play no matter how you cut it. Boston shot just 20 percent from the field in the fourth (4-for-20), 25 percent from 3-point range (2-for-8) while allowing New Orleans to shoot better than 50 percent in the quarter (10-for-19, 52.9 percent).

Abdel Nader: There were several things that went wrong for the Celtics in the fourth, but few stand out as much as Abdel Nader’s struggles from the free throw line. A 72-percent free throw shooter this season, Nader was 2-for-8 from the line which included him missing five in a row.


Celtics have no answer for Davis in loss to Pelicans, 108-89

AP Photo

Celtics have no answer for Davis in loss to Pelicans, 108-89

The Boston Celtics found themselves on the comeback trail most of the second half on Sunday, with a pathway toward success remaining elusive all night as the New Orleans Pelicans got a much-needed 108-89 win over the Boston Celtics. 

MVP candidate Anthony Davis had another huge game against the Celtics as he tallied 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Boston (47-23) has now lost three of its last four games, while the Pelicans (40-30) are hoping Sunday’s victory will jumpstart them after losing four of their previous five games prior to Sunday night’s victory. 

The game’s turning point came in the fourth quarter when Boston’s Abdel Nader was fouled on a 3-point attempt with Boston trailing 82-76. 

On the play, New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry was whistled for a technical foul. 

Nader, a 72.0 percent free throw shooter this season, missed all four – yes, all four – free throws.

New Orleans responded with a 10-3 run and their control of the game was never an issue afterwards.

It was indeed a tale of two different halves as New Orleans opened the third quarter with an 11-3 run to lead 58-52. 

The Pelicans continued to soldier on as their lead peaked at 11 points following a free throw by Davis made it a 76-65 game. 

Boston was able to cut into New Orleans’ lead but still trailed 82-76 going into the fourth quarter.

The ending was in stark contrast to how the night began for Boston.

The Celtics continued their run of strong starts to games, with an 8-0 run which sucked for the New Orleans Pelicans fans who stood on their feet until New Orleans finally scored on a lay-up by ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo with 8:35 to play in the first.

That would be the catalyst for a much-needed spurt by the Pelicans which brought then within 10-8. 

But Boston didn’t waste any time putting some distance between the team and New Orleans as the Celtics maintained a comfortable 28-20 lead at the end of the first quarter which extended Boston’s run of leads after one quarter of play, to nine in a row and 11 of the last 12.

The second quarter proved to be a much tighter affair for the Celtics as the Pelicans took their first lead of the game, 43-42, on a lob dunk by Davis. 

New Orleans lead didn’t last long as Boston closed out the quarter by scoring seven of the game’s last 11 points to lead 49-47 at the half. 

Despite having a patchwork lineup because of injuries, Boston still managed to spend most of the game playing with a lead. Fill-in starter Marcus Morris was a matchup nightmare for the Pelicans as the 6-foot-9 forward had 14 points in the first half.

Boston also got a strong first half from Jayson Tatum who led all Celtics with 15 points in the first half, and a team-high 23 for the game.