NBA Mock Draft Roundup: Everyone Has Celtics Taking Fultz No. 1 — Minus One Blockbuster Trade

BOSTON (CBS) — With the NBA Draft less than three weeks away, mock draft season is in full swing.

The Boston Celtics own the first overall pick, still reaping the benefits of the 2013 blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets, giving Danny Ainge his choice of this year’s top talent. And as you’ll see from the following roundup of NBA Draft mockers, it’s clear that everyone thinks Ainge will be drafting Washington point guard Markelle Fultz on June 22.

markelle fultz NBA Mock Draft Roundup: Everyone Has Celtics Taking Fultz No. 1    Minus One Blockbuster Trade

Markelle Fultz averaged 23.2 points on 48 percent shooting in his only season at Washington. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Well, almost everyone. One pundit has Ainge dealing the pick away to the Indiana Pacers for guard Paul George. That would be Ainge trying the “win-now” approach, adding an established star player to a team that won 53 games last season.

Read: History Is On Celtics’ Side If They Go With Fultz

Here’s what the mockers around the nation have the Celtics doing with that top overall pick, and it doesn’t appear there will be much suspense come draft night.

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Danny Ainge said immediately after the lottery order was set that things haven’t been “narrowed down to one or two guys.” And I believe him, I guess. But Boston’s primary focus has forever been Fultz — the one-and-done point guard from Washington who has good size for the position, terrific instincts and a reliable jumper. Any concerns about whether he can play with Isaiah Thomas aren’t legitimate, I don’t think. And, even if they were, it shouldn’t matter. With the first pick a franchise should always take the best prospect regardless of need. In this draft, that’s Fultz.

Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports

Trade: Boston sends No. 1 overall pick in 2017, both of their second-rounders this year as well as a 2019 first-round pick (which had been acquired from the Clippers) to Indiana for Paul George and Al Jefferson.

Why not just go for it? The Celtics came as close as they were going to come with their current roster at unseating LeBron’s Cavs atop the East – in other words, not particularly close at all. Getting Paul George from the Pacers and trying to sign him to a long-term deal is the ultimate win-now move. This trade assumes that George shows interest in staying with Boston and not just in hopping on the first train to Los Angeles, and that Gordon Hayward stays put in Utah instead of heading to Boston. It helps that the Pacers are throwing in someone who can shore up the Celtics’ post play in Al Jefferson.

george NBA Mock Draft Roundup: Everyone Has Celtics Taking Fultz No. 1    Minus One Blockbuster Trade

Paul George averaged a career-high 23.7 points per game for the Pacers during the 2016-17 season. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Chad Ford, ESPN (Insider Content)

Pick: Markelle Fultz

The Celtics were the big winners in more ways than one. Not only do they get the No. 1 pick, but now they control the draft, making trade offers even more lucrative.

If they keep the pick, Fultz is the clear choice for them. He can play both the 1 and the 2, he stretches the floor and he has the build to contribute right now. If they shop this pick, they should be able to get a player such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler in a trade in return. Fultz is that good.

Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation

Pick: Markelle Fultz

The best fit for the Celtics was always going to be the best long-term prospect. That’s Fultz. Boston already has a team that finished as the No. 1 seed in the East and reached the conference finals. Now they’re thinking bigger, and the best way to get there is playing the long game. Fultz will be the first major piece of that plan.

Sean Deveney, The Sporting News

Pick: Markelle Fultz

The Celtics will have options, including a trade. Fultz has established himself as the best bet in this draft, a dynamic offensive player who has drawn comparisons to James Harden. A small forward (Josh Jackson?) might be a better roster fit, but expect the Celtics to rank talent first.

Jeremy Woo, SI.com

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Finally, the C’s cash out in full on one of those Nets picks and spend the house money on Fultz, who’s not only the most well-rounded player in this draft, but fits with Boston’s needs as a versatile backcourt piece who will be able to handle early minutes without heavy pressure. Fultz has the size and skills to play alongside Isaiah Thomas and the playmaking ability to pair with Marcus Smart or Avery Bradley. Unless the Celtics opt to deal this pick—and knowing Danny Ainge, it’ll be very much in play—Fultz looks like both the best fit and best player available.

Daniel O’Brien, FanRag

Pick: Markelle Fultz

The Celtics still have a bunch of time between now and June 22 to survey their options and re-evaluate their selection. But as they continue to do their homework on Fultz, they’ll find too much to like about him.

Every hoops junkie has seen highlights of his agile drives to the rim and fluid jump-shooting repertoire. But let’s focus for a minute on his playmaking skills. Fultz has loads of natural passing talent, and he put it on display throughout the season at Washington. His patience and accuracy led to 1.08 points per possession on pick-and-rolls, and his long arms (6-10 wingspan) help him wrap passes around defenders from all angles.

Brad Stevens will gradually maximize Fultz’s combination of scoring, passing and defensive size in his system. He gives the Shamrocks more than firepower; he gives them long-term positional flexibility and options in the backcourt.

The Ringer

All three mockers (Kevin O’Connor, Danny Chau and Johnathan Tjarks) have Fultz going to the Celtics at No. 1, who they tout as “A versatile defender and athletic leaper who is already capable of playmaking and transition scoring—the hallmarks of an NBA point guard.”

Adi Joseph, USA Today

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Find any team that doesn’t have Fultz atop its big board. He has every skill NBA teams are looking for in a point guard, including the ability to play off the ball as needed. The biggest worry is about his motor, but it’s difficult to parse whether that was the result of a focusing issue or playing for such a mediocre college team.

Bleacher Report

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Draft Express

Pick: Markelle Fultz

NBADraft.net

Pick: Markelle Fultz

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