BOSTON (CBS) — If you wanted a little drama surrounding the No. 1 overall pick in next week’s NBA Draft, you’ve finally got it.
It’s hard to get into the mind of Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge (unless the question is ‘What’s for lunch?’ That answer is Chipotle 99 percent of the time), but one opposing general manager believes he’s done just that.
Speaking to ESPN’s Chad Ford (you need an ESPN Insider account to read it), an anonymous general manager said the Celtics won’t be picking Markelle Fultz next Thursday like just about everyone has predicted, and will instead draft Kansas forward Josh Jackson with the top pick.
“I’ve picked Danny’s brain for years,” one GM said. “Jackson is an Ainge player all the way. Tough, athletic, long, versatile, elite motor. If he’s keeping the pick, Jackson just to me, far and away, is the most Celtics-type player for them to draft. From all my conversations with them, I’m convinced they’ll take Jackson No. 1.”
Jackson has not worked out for the Celtics, though his agent B.J. Armstrong told Ford that they have had dialogue with Boston. After Ainge revealed that UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball would not be working out with them ahead of the draft on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich, he told the hosts that a player not working out for them wouldn’t deter him from drafting that player.
While Fultz has been the consensus No. 1 pick for most of the year, the 20-year-old Jackson would also be an intriguing pick for Boston. The athletic wing is a solid defender and averaged 16.3 points on 51 percent shooting while pulling down 7.4 rebounds per contest during his one seasons with the Jayhawks. There would be a bit of a roster crunch, with Jae Crowder and second-year player Jaylen Brown already on the roster, but Jackson fits that prototypical mold that Ainge loves with his draft picks.
There hasn’t been much drama surrounding the Celtics and the No. 1 pick, with just about every mock draft having Fultz being drafted by Boston, and the timing of the report is peculiar with Fultz working out with the L.A. Lakers (who own the No. 2 pick) on Thursday.