I’ll admit it. I jumped aboard the Markelle Fultz hype-train. I bought in. I was prepared for Fultz to be the next superstar point guard in the NBA. And I was expecting him to be just that in Boston, as the No. 1 overall pick.
So when the Celtics traded down to No. 3 overall this past weekend, something didn’t feel right.
I was expecting Fultz in Green, or, I wanted more in return if they did trade out of No. 1. And perhaps, by the time you read this, one of these crazy trade rumors will come to fruition and that “more” I was expecting will be signed, sealed, and delivered.
Even so, it will all mean one thing: Fultz is not walking through that door. Not as a member of the Celtics, at least.
The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to draft Fultz No. 1 overall on Thursday night. It will be at that moment where I’ll feel a little sick to my stomach.
Regardless of what the Celtics do on Draft night, I’ll still be over here thinking about what could have been. Because for the last three months, most people have tried to tell me what Fultz is going to be.
No, he’s not projected to be the next LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan. Nobody came close to making those comparisons. But don’t look at Fultz now and tell me he’s considered to be an average NBA point guard at best, just because the Celtics decided not to keep the pick and draft him.
Danny Ainge is playing the “value” game right now, it seems. And like I said, perhaps there’s another move coming. But if we’re putting any stock whatsoever into the mock drafts created by “experts” whose only job is to cover college basketball and the NBA Draft, then we can’t let Ainge’s evaluation and value-plays turn into a smear campaign against Fultz.
The 19-year-old out of Washington averaged 23 points per game with a .476 field-goal percentage and a .413 three-point percentage. He’s an athletic 6-foot-5 point guard with a 6-foot-10 wingspan who can shoot and finish around the net. Throughout the college season, the projected No. 1 overall pick was either him or UCLA’s Lonzo Ball.
Even though he didn’t advance to the NCAA tournament, Fultz had separated himself as the clear-cut No. 1 overall pick in most draft analysts’ eyes. So either they have no idea what they’re talking about, or Fultz really does have all the tools to be an elite offensive point guard in the NBA.
Initially, I expressed my concerns with the Celtics drafting a point guard because they already have one in Isaiah Thomas. And the 28-year-old Thomas established himself as a max player this past season, while finishing the year third in the league in scoring, averaging 28.9 points per game.
People tried to tell me Thomas and Fultz could play together. And they’re probably right. My concern was that Thomas wouldn’t want the team to draft another point guard, and that he would instead choose to sign somewhere else as a free agent next summer.
But the more highlights I saw of Fultz, and the more I was told by the experts that he was the best player in the draft, the more I bought into the idea of keeping the pick and drafting him No. 1 overall, while hoping Thomas would want to stick around as a shooting guard.
Well, Fultz will still be drafted No. 1 overall. It just won’t be by the Celtics. And there’s something about it that just doesn’t feel right.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” at dannypicard.com, iTunes, Google Play, and on the PodcastOne network. Danny can also be heard weekends on WEEI 93.7 FM. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard.