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Drafting Fultz is the easy decision for the Celtics

By: Cory Hughes

Drafting Markelle Fultz should be an easy decision for Danny Ainge with the No. 1 pick.

What is on the mind of Danny Ainge? His Celtics are in an incredible position having been the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and going to the Eastern Conference finals, but also owning the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft. There is a lot of different speculation of what the Celtics could and might do. They have been rumored to be looking to trade the No. 1 pick for a player who could put them ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers, or they could just hold tight and pick one of the top guys in the draft.

Before this year’s trade deadline the Celtics were reportedly trying to get Jimmy Butler, but the Bulls’ asking price was too high at the time. Ainge also sought to get Butler during last year’s draft before ultimately using his first round pick on Jaylen Brown. Celtics fans and media also love the idea of trading for either Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins. But neither of those seem like likely options either.

The Pelicans don’t seem to have Cousins on the trade block after making a huge move of their own before the deadline to get him as Anthony Davis’ frontcourt mate. George might be a guy who could give them an electrifying scoring spark, but it is widely reported that he has his hopes set out for Lakerland come Summer 2019. Is a two-year rental worth the first overall pick when getting George doesn’t make the Celtics the clear cut favorite ahead of Cleveland in the East?

Making one trade probably won’t get the Celtics past Cleveland with LeBron James showing no signs of slowing down. It’s very possible that he still has a good five years left. Drafting a young player who can help the Celtics for many years to come probably is the better decision for the Celtics, and it comes down to only one player: Markelle Fultz.

Drafting Fultz could end up being the easiest decision Ainge has ever had to make as the Celtics’ general manager.

The fair question to ask about Fultz is whether he can lead an NBA team to wins even though he couldn’t do that in college. That was the same question asked about last year’s first overall pick Ben Simmons. Fultz’ Washington Huskies went a rough 9-22 and failed to make any major tournament after an early exit in the Pac-12 postseason tournament with a loss to USC, when Fultz wasn’t able to play because of knee soreness.

Lonzo Ball’s father LaVar Ball seems to be forcing the Celtics’ hands by saying he only wants his son to play for the Lakers and refusing even to give the Celtics and workout. It is probably safe to say that the Celtics have crossed his name off their list, regardless of how talented he is.

The only other guards who could give Fultz any competition on draft day are De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson. It’s no question that Fultz was the better scorer in college out of that trio, averaging 23.2 points per game and topping 30 points four times – a scoring mark Ball never reached, and Fox and Jackson only did once each. Pairing Fultz with Isaiah Thomas could be an exciting tandem in the Celtics backcourt for years to come, and both former Huskies have stated they want to play together.

The Celtics also have the luxury of being able to take their time in developing Fultz as they are coming off a 51 win season. Brad Stevens doesn’t have to throw him out in the lion’s den right off the bat. He can work on the holes he has in his defensive game and mold him into a shooting guard after playing point guard for Washington.

Another type of player the Celtics need is a big man who can protect the rim. This year’s draft class just does not have a big man who seems worthy of being the first overall pick. Next year’s draft could be an entirely different story with Michael Porter, Jr., Mohamed Bamba, and DeAndre Ayton. And remember, the Celtics have the Brooklyn Nets’ first round pick next year as well. Ainge could be in this same position next year, or at least a similar situation. Taking the guard with prolific scoring ability this year with the possibility of finding big man early next year just seems like the easy way for the Celtics to go.

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Cory Hughes

Growing up in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, Cory grew up with a love of football. But believe it or not, it did not start because of Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. It started with guys like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs. He's probably the only person in the New England area that doesn't have a Tom Brady jersey in his closet. As an adolescent Cory played every sport that was available to him. He was the starting Defensive End on his Pop Warner A Team and had with sacks. Cory was also the starting center for his middle school basketball team that won a league championship with an undefeated season. However, after not growing more than two inches in high school, he decided to drop basketball and pick up wrestling. His sophomore year while wrestling, MMA started to grow and the big fight everybody was talking about was Quentin 'Rampage' Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell. Watching Jackson's slams, he was hooked to MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Not long after he started training in that as well. In just over two years he got his blue belt in martial arts. So it's a great mix of sports that he loves and that eventually sparked his interest in sports journalism.

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