Markelle Fultz

Sixers Make Markelle Fultz Top Pick

Three days after completing a deal for the No. 1 pick, the Sixers used it as expected, taking point guard Markelle Fultz out of Washington.

There was no suspense surrounding the selection, as Philadelphia made its intentions clear from the time trade talks began with the Celtics. Sixers officials didn’t sign off on the deal until they received Fultz’s medical records and brought him in for a visit.

An explosive 6’4″ freshman, Fultz is expected to team with last year’s top pick, Ben Simmons, and center Joel Embiid to form a Big Three for the future in Philadelphia. The addition of Fultz may signal a turnaround after years of losing that began when former GM Sam Hinkie launched The Process in 2013.

Fultz has topped nearly every mock draft since the season began, and the Celtics would have been overwhelming favorites to draft him if they had kept the pick. Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds during his only season with the Huskies and gets near-unanimous approval from NBA scouts.

Philadelphia has four picks remaining, all the in second round, at 36, 39, 46 and 50.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Atlantic Notes: Pre-Draft Workouts, 76ers, Nets

Although likely no other pre-draft workout will top the excitement of Markelle Fultz‘s with the 76ers on Saturday, followed by media availability, and the subsequent finalizing of the blockbuster trade that would bring Fultz to Philly, the Sixers held another session on Tuesday, Keith Pompey of Philly.com reports. Participants included Kris Jenkins (Villanova), Michael Young (Pittsburgh), Kadeem Allen (Arizona), Michael Ojo (Florida State), and Youssoupha Fall (France).

Here are more pre-draft workout updates from the Atlantic division:

Jayson Tatum Works Out For Celtics

Former Duke forward Jayson Tatum met with the Celtics on Monday, working out for Boston at the team’s practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, a source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. It was the first time that Tatum had paid a visit to the C’s.

The Celtics confirmed on Monday afternoon that their trade with the Sixers, which will see them move down from No. 1 to No. 3, is now official. While we know that Philadelphia will use its newly-acquired pick on Markelle Fultz, it’s still not clear which prospect Boston will draft at No. 3.

Josh Jackson is viewed as the favorite for the Celtics, but there are increased rumblings that Tatum remains very much in the mix as well. Lonzo Ball also figures to be an option if the Lakers pass on him with the second overall selection, though it remains to be seen if he and/or Jackson will work out for Boston before Thursday.

Speaking to reporters today, Celtics president Danny Ainge said that the team believes “there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at No. 3 is the player we would have taken at No. 1” (Twitter link via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe). However, he also suggested the team hasn’t necessarily zeroed in one specific player, indicating that there may be multiple players the team would happy with at No. 3 (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com).

While I wouldn’t expect the Celtics to move down any further than they already have, it’s worth noting that ESPN’s Chad Ford reported the Suns (No. 4) have talked to Boston about a deal. Phoenix reportedly has its eye on either Ball or Jackson, so if the Celtics would be happy with Tatum, it will be interesting to see if Ainge is willing to discuss moving down again in a deal with the Suns. For what it’s worth, Ford tweets that the Celtics have Jackson and Tatum ranked as first-tier prospects alongside Fultz and Ball.

Sixers Acquire No. 1 Pick From Celtics, Will Take Fultz

JUNE 19: The Celtics have formally issued a press release announcing the trade, making it official. Here’s how the finalized deal looks:

Sixers acquire:

  • No. 1 overall pick in 2017

Celtics acquire:

  • No. 3 overall pick in 2017
  • Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5. If Lakers’ pick doesn’t convey, Celtics will acquire more favorable of Kings’ or Sixers’ 2019 first-round pick (unless that pick is No. 1 overall, in which case the Celtics will acquire less favorable selection).

“We are very pleased with the outcome of this trade, which puts us in the enviable position of selecting first overall in consecutive draft years,” Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said in Philadelphia’s own announcement confirming the deal. “History suggests that No. 1 has the greatest odds of producing franchise-level talent and we are confident that this year’s draft class has that very potential. Thursday night will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”

JUNE 17: The Celtics and Sixers have reached an agreement on a deal that will send the first overall pick to Philadelphia, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. The trade will be finalized on Monday and the Sixers will select University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, Aldridge adds.

Boston will receive the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft from Philadelphia, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com.

Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets that the Celtics will also receive one future first-rounder along with that pick. Boston will receive the 2018 first-rounder that the Lakers owe the Sixers with protections, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. If it doesn’t convey, the Sixers will instead give up the Kings‘ first-rounder that Sacramento owes to Philadelphia, Wojnarowski adds. Wojnarowski originally reported the Celtics would get both of those picks.

The Celtics will receive that Lakers pick if it’s anywhere between No. 2 and No. 5, Philadelphia-based reporter Derek Bodner tweets. Otherwise, Boston will get the Kings pick in 2019.

The league made a rule change last summer which allowed teams to put protection on unprotected picks they had received in a previous trade, Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets.

The Lakers were interested in trading up to snag Fultz but the Sixers’ ability to hand over another high first-rounder was more than Los Angeles could offer, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

The final piece to the puzzle was for Fultz to formally work out with the Sixers and that occurred on Saturday night, as Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reports. “I’m truly blessed to be in this position,” Fultz told Reynolds and other reporters at the workout. “Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”

While the uncertainty over which player will go No. 1 has apparently been clarified, it’s still unknown what the Lakers will do. Most experts anticipate they’ll choose UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, which would leave Kansas swingman Josh Jackson available for the Celtics at the No. 3 slot.

The Celtics now have a huge stockpile of future first-rounders at their disposal to facilitate a deal for a star player. They already own the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick, plus the first-rounders of the Clippers and Grizzlies in 2019, along with a handful of second-round picks.

The trade gives the Sixers a dream backcourt of back-to-back No. 1 overall picks, with Fultz joining Ben Simmons, who sat out last season with a foot injury.

Atlantic Notes: Holmes, Simmons, Fultz

He may not be touted as one of their future franchise cornerstones but Richaun Holmes played a significant role in the Sixers‘ improvement in 2016/17. Holmes, a backup power forward-turned-starting center after injuries hit, spoke with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype about his future with the organization.

I can be so much better. So much better,” the 23-year-old Sixers big said. “I think I’m just scratching the surface of my potential. With the things I’m working on now, the way I’m feeling now and where my head is at now, I’m definitely maturing as a player and as a man.”

The soon-to-be third-year Sixers center is working on improving his pick-and-roll defense and jump shot this summer.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In the aforementioned Alex Kennedy interview, Richaun Holmes had this to say about Sixers 2016 draft pick Ben Simmons: “Man, I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest. To be 7-feet tall and be able to move the way he does and have that skill set, I’ve never seen anyone like him. And I think the thing that stands out most to me is just how hard he plays.
  • Any Nets fans in the mood for an excruciating hike up memory gorge will be pleased to see that Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reviewed, in detail, the infamous trade that sent four first-round draft picks from the Brooklyn to the Celtics.
  • A Nets Daily tweet reminds followers that the Nets will likely get the Pacers‘ 2019 second-round pick, something that ought to gain value if Paul George is half-way out the door in Indiana.
  • There are plenty of reasons for the Sixers to be excited about Markelle Fultz but one of the biggest is the sheer number of needs he will be able to meet in Philadelphia. Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about head coach Brett Brown and the boxes Fultz will tick for the franchise.

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Fultz, Tatum, Theis

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, has risked his legacy by trading the top pick in this year’s draft, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Mannix points out that Ainge gave up Markelle Fultz, a player who scouts seem unanimously sold on, for a chance at Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, who play the same position as Boston’s first pick from last year, Jaylen Brown. Ainge may be preparing for a larger deal, but the Pelicans seem to have no desire to move Anthony Davis, and the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler or the Pacers’ Paul George would probably be just a brief rental. Mannix believes Philadelphia now has a team that can contend for the playoffs next season and possibly grow into the East’s next power. If that happens, Ainge’s reputation will take a major hit.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • The Celtics get an A-minus for the deal and the Sixers get an A-plus from Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. He writes that Fultz’s skills don’t fit with Boston’s immediate needs and his presence would have complicated Isaiah Thomas‘ free agency in 2018. Ainge, who owns Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder next season, may have two lottery picks to work with if the Lakers’ choice falls between No. 2 and 5. If not, he will have the Kings’ first-rounder in 2019.
  • Despite reports that they are pursuing another deal, the Celtics are telling agents they plan to use the No. 3 pick, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • Tatum is a strong possibility for the Celtics if the Lakers opt for Jackson at No. 2, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link). Boston ranks Fultz, Jackson, Tatum and Lonzo Ball as its top four prospects.
  • The trade slightly raises Boston’s cap space to $19.8MM, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM, who adds that it can still be increased with other moves. The Sixers now have $40.2MM available, second only to the Kings.
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation examines the Celtics’ possible motives for the deal, including a desire to take Jackson, to avoid conflict with Thomas, to set up a bigger deal involving Butler or George or to build a team capable of taking over the East when LeBron James retires.
  • The Celtics have “serious interest” in German forward Daniel Theis, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 25-year-old is a free agent after his contract with Brose Bamberg expired.

Draft Notes: Briscoe, Fox, Ferguson, Artis

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe had to cancel his remaining workouts because of an ankle injury, according to Adam Zagoria of FanRagSports. The scheduled sessions were with the Lakers, Kings, Bucks and Pacers. Briscoe had reportedly been impressive in workouts with the Knicks, Sixers and a few other teams. DraftExpress lists Briscoe 71st in its list of top 100 prospects.

There’s more draft-related news as the clock winds down toward Thursday:

  • De’Aaron Fox, Briscoe’s backcourt partner at Kentucky, is intrigued by the prospect of joining former Wildcats Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in Phoenix, writes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. The Suns hold the No. 4 pick, but seem unlikely to take another guard unless they make a trade to clear out their already overcrowded backcourt. Fox, who is considered a top five pick, sees the Lakers at No. 2 as another possibility. “I’ve heard they’re trying to move D’Angelo [Russell] to the 2,” he says. “Even if he does play point, I feel like we could play together. A lot of teams play two point guards anyway.” Fox touches on several other subjects, including his rivalry with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, in a wide-ranging piece.
  • Regardless of the order, the first five picks in the draft appear to be set, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Turner talked to several league executives and found a consensus. After Washington’s Markelle Fultz is taken at No. 1, Ball, Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum will round out the top five. However, some believe Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac has a shot at being the fifth pick.
  • Terrance Ferguson, who is projected as the Nets‘ pick at No. 27 in the latest mock drafts from DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com, will work out for Brooklyn today, according to NetsDaily.com (Twitter link).
  • Pitt’s Jamel Artis has scheduled workouts today with the Pistons and Monday with the Thunder, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Jazz held a workout Saturday that could be their last one before the draft, relays Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley was the highest-ranked prospect on hand, joined by Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, Houston’s Damyean Dotson, North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks, La Salle’s Jordan Price and Southeast Missouri State’s Antonius Cleveland. “It was great,” Motley said. “Played with a lot of energy, played good defensively and shot the ball well during the workout. I think I did pretty good.”

Latest On Celtics-Sixers Deal

Saturday’s blockbuster deal that will allow the Sixers to draft Markelle Fultz validates “the process” that former GM Sam Hinkie brought to Philadelphia, writes Tim Cato of SB Nation. The Sixers were able to get the No. 1 pick from Boston in exchange for their own selection at No. 3 and the Lakers’ first-rounder next year, which will be conveyed only if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5, or the Kings’ first-rounder the following year. Hinkie’s philosophy of getting high draft picks and collecting assets gave Philadelphia the ammunition to make the deal, Cato notes. The Sixers now have a promising core of Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to build their future around.

There’s a lot more this morning as writers weigh in on the trade:

  • The Sixers held a private workout with Fultz Saturday night before agreeing to the deal, and the Celtics weren’t notified that the trade was done before the news became public, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. He notes that the Celtics’ already crowded backcourt factored into their decision to pass on Fultz (Twitter link). Potential Boston draftees Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball both turned down workouts with the team, so the Celtics haven’t seen either player in person (Twitter link). They watched Jayson Tatum during a session in Los Angeles.
  • The trade happened five days before the draft because the Sixers and Celtics are both hoping to make other deals, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Fultz, who grew up in Maryland, told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he likes the idea of playing relatively close to home and being with a rising team like the Sixers. Sources told Pompey that Fultz was disappointed when Philadelphia failed to land the top pick at the lottery. “They have a young team, and I think the upside of it would be crazy,” Fultz said. “I’m close to home. So a lot of my family can come out and just show love, and this city has great fans.”
  • The Celtics could have seven first-rounders over the next three drafts, tweets ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg, who details the picks.
  • On his website, Derek Bodner examines how the Sixers acquired the assets they used to land Fultz.

Community Shootaround: Potential 76ers Big Three

Even if your mother always warned you not to get ahead of yourself, let’s get ahead of ourselves anyway. After all, Coach Klein did teach Bobby Boucher in The Waterboy that “what Mama don’t know, won’t hurt her.”

Classic movies from 1998 aside, the 76ers are reportedly close to trading for the Celtics‘ No. 1 overall pick in next week’s draft. If completed, Philly would very likely select Markelle Fultz, the tantalizing University of Washington freshman with major upside. Can you imagine Fultz on the court with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? The Sixers could boast three of the most promising young players in the NBA. Fultz is 19 years old, Simmons is 20, and Embiid is 23. Lest we forget, Philly also possesses promising 23-year-olds Dario Saric and Richaun Holmes on its youthful roster.

If Fultz’s workout with the Sixers (scheduled for 6 PM Eastern Time Saturday night) goes as well as expected, the trade could soon be finalized, and 76ers fans could witness their fantasy coming true of a Fultz-Simmons-Embiid big (and young) three. Today’s discussion question is: assuming the trade is completed and the Sixers wind up with Fultz, how special can this trio be together? What kind of obstacles do you expect them to face? If Brett Brown still elects to play Simmons at point guard, would that mostly help or hurt Fultz’s development on the court?

We’d love to hear your insight in the comment section.

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