In just a few short weeks Markelle Fultz will be chosen with the first overall pick in the NBA draft. As to whether or not the Boston Celtics are the team that does the picking, well, that’s up to Danny Ainge.
While it seems almost certain that Ainge will simply take Fultz with the number one pick, fans of the team know that Ainge has a flair for the dramatic. If Ainge decides to pass on Fultz, expect him to trade down to a lower pick. Doing so could aid in balancing the roster a bit while simultaneously filling positional holes.
And with the buzz around Fultz being so ridiculously high, the payoff for trading the right to draft him could be enormous.
Check out these two somewhat realistic trade scenarios.
I mean, as realistic as you can be when discussing ways to flip a consensus number one pick.
It’s Always Sunny in Boston
To the Philadelphia 76ers – The First Pick
Let’s get started with what I think is a no-brainer.
Why would Brian Colangelo and the 76ers agree to move what amounts to essentially four players for the first overall pick? The answer is simple. Markelle Fultz.
The guy projects to be the kind of player that can impact a team’s winning immediately, while also improving year to year. Fultz also fills a huge hole in the 76er rotation and should pair well with their budding stars going forward.
Conversely, Ainge might make this deal as it would allow the Celtics to maintain relatively high draft stock, in turn allowing Ainge to target a number of guys with skill sets better suited to the Celtics roster.
With the third overall pick, the Celtics could take somebody like Malik Monk. The kid is a natural born scorer and can absolutely light it up from outside. In fact, Monk actually set the University of Kentucky single-game scoring record for a freshman by dropping 47 points in a game earlier this year.
Monk has the ability to play as a team’s primary ball handler or off the ball. This versatility would be huge for the Celtics in that it would allow Brad Stevens to slot Monk next to Isaiah Thomas, or simply have Monk run the second unit.
The knock on Monk is his size and defensive intensity; however, he has shown flashes on the defensive end. His lateral mobility combined with elite verticality more than compensate for his lack of length. When he chooses to bring it, Monk can be a lock down defender.
Should Monk fail to peak Ainge’s interest, there are a bunch of other phenomenal young guards or wing players he could consider with the third pick.
And there’s also a good chance that Ainge might actually be more inclined to make this deal for Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes. Both players are talented young bigs with a wide array of skills.
Saric is the more infamous of the two, a highly touted rookie with a solid all-around game. He’s a little bit more polished than Holmes and figures to be at least as good as Kelly Olynyk on the offensive end, perhaps even better defensively.
Saric and Holmes could both contribute immediately on this Celtics team, with Saric contributing in a sort of stretch forward role, and with Holmes bringing defensive intensity and rebounding.
If Ainge were to ever a make a deal like this a future draft pick would certainly be in the cards. Whether it’s a first or second, a future pick helps the Celtics stick to the plan of improving in the short term without mortgaging their future.
Even Stevens… Kinda
To the Sacramento Kings – The First Pick
Similar to Colangelo, Vlade Divac and the Kings would agree to this deal because they receive Fultz. Period.
Alternatively, this is a deal that Ainge would make under a very specific set of circumstances.
Namely, if Dennis Smith Jr. is still available around the 10th pick.
Smith is arguably the most athletic guard in the draft and frequently draws comparisons to Russell Westbrook.
He can score the ball in a ton of different ways and is a capable playmaker, skills which would definitely be of use on the Celtics. If Smith manages to improve his decision making on the court he could very well become the best point guard from this class.
Ainge and the Celtics actually have a workout with Smith scheduled for June 7th according to Marc Berman. Such a revelation alludes to the idea that Ainge is at least partly interested in acquiring the lightning quick point guard, and trading down is likely the best way to do this.
And by trading down with the Kings, Ainge and the Celtics can acquire two really promising centers in Skal Labissière and Willie Cauley-Stein.
Both players are super long and mobile, fairly raw offensively, yet have a lot of defensive upside.
The Celtics could play either interchangeably next to Al Horford to try and balance rebounding duties, an area where the Celtics are currently lacking.
Ainge being Ainge, some sort of future pick would have to be made available for him and the Celtics to pull the trigger on this deal.
To Bet on Potential
While Ainge is more than likely going to draft Fultz at one, the above trades could very well net better overall value. Who knows though.
In a few years, Ainge might look back at this draft and grin smugly, content with the realization that he resisted the temptation to trade a guy with potential for players that might only be better than average, a decision that ultimately helped the Celtics get back to the Promised Land.