The lottery has come and gone, and in the infinite wisdom of the NBA’s parity system, the Boston Celtics have to take a break from the Eastern Conference finals to think about who they’re going to draft #1 overall. The rest of the lottery was largely unremarkable: Joel Embiid was charming, the Lakers avoided disaster, and the Pelicans didn’t sneak into glory.
Now that we’ve got a draft order set, we can finally take a real look at the possibilities come June 22nd.
Everyone’s in love with Markelle Fultz, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s a long, athletic point guard who scores a lot of points in a lot of different ways and has no obvious weaknesses. His only blemish is Washington’s failure to appear in the NCAA tournament, but there’s more than enough tape to establish Fultz as the best prospect.
Working against him: the Celtics already have a point guard they’re very happy with (Isaiah Thomas), on a contract that would be a bargain at twice the price ($6.3 million). They have a bigger need for a wing (hello Josh Jackson) but if that’s their preference, they ought to trade down a couple of picks. Taking a wing first overall in this draft is a slight waste of value with Fultz available.
The further we go into the pre-draft process, the more likely it seems that Fultz will be the #1 pick, and it’s starting to look like a certainty. Pretty good for a guy who was playing JV ball three years ago.
If this was a draft for the most controversial player, Lonzo Ball would be the consensus #1 pick. He’s released a $495 shoe with his father’s new company, declared that DMX is the third-best rapper of all time, and generally garnered more cultural cache/notoriety than any amateur athlete since Johnny Manziel.
He’s also an incredible point guard. His passing ability and vision combine to make good defences look stupid. Growing up in Southern California and having played for UCLA, there are a lot of reasons for the Lakers (no. 2 overall) to love Lonzo Ball.
He’s been dropping a little bit on the draft boards recently; some GMs are turned off by his father’s incessant antics and others have re-watched the Kentucky game where De’Aaron Fox lit up Lonzo and UCLA for 39 points and a commanding win.
Another point guard, I know. It’s fairly unlikely that the Celtics will take Fox over Ball and Fultz, but if they’re doing some kind of sneaky trade they might have to. A lot of teams like Fox more than Lonzo Ball, whom Fox lit up in March.
Fox has unbelievable physical traits and led Kentucky to the Elite Eight and a two-point loss to eventual champions UNC. If he had a consistent jump shot, he’d probably be the #1 pick, but unfortunately he shot 24.7% from three last year and that’s just not the NBA anymore.
Markelle Fultz (Washington): 3/1
De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky): 4/1
Josh Jackson (Kansas): 5/1
Jayson Tatum (Duke): 5/1
Lonzo Ball (UCLA): 6/1
With the fan vote counting for less these days, Lonzo won’t get a free bid. With the media vote counting for more — and his father being who he is — he might have to earn it the hard way.
The arguments against lose out to sheer inevitability.
Brooklyn Nets: 3/1
Phoenix Suns: 4/1
LA Lakers: 15/1
Good news, Brooklyn: no team has repeated as the worst in the league since the 2001-02 Bulls!
Pros: insane physical abilities. Cons: zero college games played. Result: millions of dollars.
Silver has more patience than I do.
Photo credit: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire
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