Report: Celtics rate Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball as top four of 2017 NBA draft
The Celtics – for an extra first-round pick next year or in 2019 – are willing to embrace uncertainty.
Boston is on track to trade the No. 1 pick this year to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and either the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder or Kings’ 2019 first-rounder. (The Lakers pick conveys if it lands 2-5. If not, Sacramento’s pick conveys.) Not only will the Celtics miss an opportunity to draft Markelle Fultz – this draft’s most polished, safest prospect – they don’t even know who will be available at No 3.
The presumption is Boston wants Josh Jackson, but the Lakers could pick him at No. 2. What would the Celtics do then? Would they definitely take Jackson if the Lakers, as expected, take Lonzo Ball?
Maybe we can at least narrow Boston’s options.
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:
The Celtics have Fultz, Jackson, Tatum and Ball rated as top four in this draft. If Lakers take Jackson at No. 2, Tatum looms large.— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) June 18, 2017
That wasn't in particular order save for Fultz, but seems to be about squeezing extra value out of the pick re: next year.— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) June 18, 2017
The Celtics could still flip the No. 3 pick in another trade. I’m also curious how Murphy got the top four of Boston’s draft board, even in this vague form.
But this is an interesting list. It’s comprised of four players commonly thought to be in the top five for most teams, omitting De’Aaron Fox. The Celtics have limited use for another point guard with Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Ball’s talent might trump fit, but if the Lakers pick Jackson, maybe Tatum is the pick.
There are still so many ways this draft could unfold, but a look inside Boston’s thinking at least provides clues.