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NBA Mock Draft Roundup: Not Much Drama Surrounding Celtics, No. 1 Pick

BOSTON (CBS) — It was pretty darn exciting when the ping-pong balls finally bounced the Celtics’ way last month, giving them the first overall pick in the NBA Draft for the first time in franchise history.

But if you were hoping for a month of drama following that moment of jubilation, with constant speculation surrounding who the Celtics would pick, it’s been a bit disappointing on that front. There has been a shortage of intrigue surrounding the top pick, and with just one week to go until the draft, it looks 99.9% certain that Markelle Fultz will be wearing a Boston hat come next Thursday night.

Usually there are a few trade rumors that create a bit of a frenzy ahead of draft night, but the most of the drama this year surrounds the Los Angeles Lakers and what they’ll do with the No. 2 pick. Lonzo Ball and his crazy father have hogged all speculative headlines, with L.A.’s decision with the No. 2 pick the one that will cause a ripple effect the rest of the way.

Fultz raised a few eyebrows when he scheduled a workout with the Lakers, and even more when it was reported that he’d meet with the Sacramento Kings, owners of the Nos. 5 and 10 picks. But it doesn’t seem likely that Danny Ainge would trade the chance at a franchise cornerstone for more assets, though with Ainge, you really never know.

But for now, one week away from selections flying off the board, the mock drafts all have Markelle Fultz going to Boston. Here’s a quick roundup:

Gary Parrish, CBS Sports

Pick: Markelle Fultz

The Celtics are typically good at keeping their intentions a bit of mystery. So it’s possible they’ll surprise everybody on draft night. But like I wrote above, at this point, all indications are that Boston will select Fultz first overall. He has good size for the position, terrific instincts and a reliable jumper. He’s not a perfect prospect. But there are no obvious flaws. And most NBA front offices have long recognized him as the best prospect in this draft.

Chad Ford, ESPN (Insider Content)

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Fultz was in Boston on Monday and Tuesday for interviews, medical testing and a workout. The information will be critical for Boston in a few ways.

He didn’t do medical testing at the combine, so this will give the Celtics their first good look at his health. With Lonzo Ball refusing to work out for the Celtics, it gives Fultz a chance to solidify the thinking that he’s the best prospect for the team.

Fultz has been the top guy on the Celtics’ board for a while, but he’s not the only player they’re considering. Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are also in the mix, according to sources.

A strong workout and interview could help seal the deal for Fultz.

Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation

Pick: Markelle Fultz

You can expect a fresh wave of rumors about Boston’s trade options with the No. 1 pick as the draft approaches, but it would be a shock if the Celtics don’t walk away with Fultz. This is one of the best backcourt prospects in a long time: a big guard who can score from all three levels and plays with a rare creativity.

My guess is that Fultz’s role next year will be as a microwave scorer off the bench. He’s talented enough to put up a few 30-point games as a rookie and give Celtics fans a glimpse of their future. Long-term, I’d expect him to be one of the best guards in the league. If the Celtics can hit the jackpot again with the Nets’ pick next year, they could really start to build something special.

Adi Joseph, USA Today

Pick: Markelle Fultz

The best player in this draft class met with Celtics brass, and all indications suggest he impressed everyone. If his lack of a winning history is holding back Fultz, most of that can be overcome because of the stacked team he should join.

Daniel O’Brien, FanRag

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Back in the winter and early spring, I thought we’d have a legitimate race between Fultz and Ball. At this juncture, it’s hard to imagine hearing anyone’s name other than Fultz at No. 1.

Washington’s prodigy is unparalleled in this crop for three reasons. He has the best combination of physical gifts, proven skill and long-term upside. Fultz displayed an advanced shot-creating repertoire that will only get better, along with strong passing production in pick-and-rolls.

Fultz is appealing to Boston because he has the chops to serve as a setup man or scorer. He’ll take some of the pressure off Isaiah Thomas and turn the diminutive all-star into a more efficient off-ball threat. And leading up to IT’s free agency next summer, Fultz will give the Celts the flexibility to trade Thomas or let him walk.

Andrew Sharp, Sports Illustrated

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Fultz will be the number one pick. There’s an outside chance that Boston trades out of the top spot—why is Sacramento sniffing around? Would anyone else put together a blockbuster?—but assuming the Celtics stay at No. 1, this is an easy decision. A guard who fits at either backcourt spot, Fultz has the highest floor of any prospect in the draft, and he probably has the highest ceiling as well. Related: Here is the No. 1 pick standing in front of decades’ worth of Celtics banners, reminding you that the NBA universe will always be unfair.

Andy Bailey, Bleacher Report

Pick: Markelle Fultz

Draft Express

Pick: Markelle Fultz

NBADraft.net

Pick: Markelle Fultz

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