By all accounts, the Boston Celtics are on the verge of trading the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers within the next day or so. The prevailing thought has been that Boston would be just as happy to land Kansas swingman Josh Jackson as they would be to take Washington guard Markelle Fultz. So, why not recoup a few additional assets for the chance to take Jackson third instead of first?
Of course, there is a certain amount of risk involved. There is no guarantee that Jackson will be available at No. 3. What would the Celtics do if Fultz and Jackson are both off the board by the time they’re on the clock? According to Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, Boston would have to choose between Duke’s Jayson Tatum and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball:
The Celtics have Fultz, Jackson, Tatum and Ball rated as top four in this draft. If Lakers take Jackson at No. 2, Tatum looms large.
— Mark Murphy (@Murf56) June 18, 2017
The Celtics find themselves in the rare situation of potentially drafting for need in the top-three. Most lottery teams are seeking the best player available regardless of potential fit, but the Celtics aren’t your standard lottery team. Boston finished 53-29 last season, which was good for the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. They come into the draft with the hope that whichever player they wind up with will be capable of contributing from day one.
Boston does seem to have a potential logjam situation looming regardless of which player they draft. Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier have the backcourt spots in hand, while drafting either Jackson or Tatum could cut into the playing time of Jae Crowder and/or Jaylen Brown.
If the reported deal between the Celtics and 76ers goes down, Boston would reportedly land this year’s No. 3 pick as well as either the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder or the Kings’ 2019 first-rounder.