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This isn't some complicated restaurant menu. You hit the lottery. Just pick the guy everyone else has #1.

The good news is that the top prospect in the draft Markelle Fultz was in Boston this week to meet and work out for the Celtics. The Celtics hit the lottery and parlayed a 25% chance at the top pick into this fortuitous situation. The Celtics haven't owned the #1 pick in over 35 years. Sure it's not a Duncan, LeBron, or Durant draft, but in Markelle Fultz you have about as sure a thing to a future star guard as you can get.

Whenever teams have blown #1 overall picks it's when they draft big men who bust. Guards have always been successful. The previous point guards drafted #1 in the lottery era were Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Derrick Rose, and Allen Iverson. But while Markelle Fultz is the top prospect in the draft on every expert's list, remember Danny Ainge doesn't pay any mind to the experts. Over the past 14 drafts, Danny Ainge has drafted a few dozen Celtics. Technically none has ever made an all-star appearance, though I count Rajon Rondo as a Celtics draft pick since it was a prearranged pick by the Suns.

So one all-star in 14 years and no superstars. Not exactly a great track record. at drafting stars (You know the guys that separate the true championship contenders from the teams that might make a conference finals). One championship in 14 years as well. Some say that's great since the Celtics hadn't won any the previous 17 years before Ainge took over. Others remember when the Celtics owned about half the titles in the league's history, and only 1 title in 14 years would be an extreme failure.

Ainge does his own thing at draft time. If he drafts a J.R. Giddens at #30 and the experts say that was reach, Ainge will counter that the Celtics had Giddens much higher than 30 on their board. Doesn't matter that DeAndre Jordan fell to #30. Ainge picks the guys who he has on his board. After every draft, Ainge says the same thing in the press conference about every pick (1st rounder or 2nd rounder), that the Celtics had the player much higher on their list than they ended up getting drafted at.

Ainge's response to Fultz' visit and workout was lukewarm:

The Celtics came away from Markelle Fultz’ two days in town with a greater knowledge of the 6-foot-4 guard’s game.

“I learned that his scoring average is really good against a chair,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said yesterday. “Good shooting percentages against a chair. High efficiency.”

Turning a tad more serious, Ainge added, “I would just say that we all got to know him a little better, just like we do with every draft pick we bring in.”

Ainge certainly will be fielding offers for the right to choose first and for other scenarios, as well. Even if the Celts keep the pick, Ainge has acknowledged the roster doesn’t have great balance, so there are moves that need to be made.

“I’ve gotten phone calls from other teams,” Ainge said, “but nothing that I’m tempted by.”

Obviously Ainge would have preferred that Fultz worked out against other top players, but top picks in the draft simply don't do that. It can only hurt their value. Past #1 picks haven't and neither will Fultz. The fact that Fultz was willing to workout at all for the Celtics was refreshing.

And Chad Ford adds that after the workout in Boston, Fultz isn't a lock to go #1 if the Celtics keep the pick. Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De'Aaron Fox, and Jayson Tatum all are still being considered. Some have speculated that Ainge's less than glowing comments could be a smoke screen, but that makes no sense. No one is going to trade up to #1 to draft Ball, Jackson, Fox or Tatum. If Ainge wanted to threaten to take any of them, other teams would pounce at Fultz instead. Fultz is the only player that teams who trade for the #1 pick would draft.

No one would be happier than Magic Johnson & Lakers fans if Ainge picked anyone other than Fultz #1

You wouldn't trade up to #1, then pass on Derrick Rose to draft Michael Beasley.  You wouldn't trade up to #1 to pass on Kyrie Irving to draft Derrick Williams. You wouldn't trade up to #1 to pass on John Wall to draft Evan Turner. If you're trading up to #1 this year, you're drafting Markelle Fultz. The Celtics passing on Fultz at #1 to draft someone else would be as foolish as the Bulls, Cavs, or Wizards preferring Beasley, Williams, or Turner.

Yet we keep on hearing from Celtics sources through the media that the Celtics aren't yet locked in on Fultz. While I like Jayson Tatum and would have been happy with him if we ended up at #3, #4 or #5, you don't draft Tatum at #1. If you want him you trade down and collect additional top assets for letting another lucky team get Fultz. But if Ainge decides he likes Tatum or Jackson more than Fultz after they workout with possibly other players and ranks either #1 on his big board, Danny wouldn't fear to draft either #1.

Ainge makes his own big board and doesn't care if it's completely different than everyone else. Unfortunately his track record of picking Pruiit over Marc Gasol, Giddens over Jordan, JaJuan Johnson over Jimmy Butler, and Olynyk over the Greek Freak is frightening. Ainge has missed out on these star players and if he passes on Fultz it wouldn't be the first time we missed out on a star because Ainge thinks differently. Of course people will counter, "Well what about the other GM's who passed on these stars?" Well isn't that what separates the great GM's from the also-rans?
These 5 All-NBA players all could have been Celtics, but Danny had Fab, Olynyk, JaJuan, Pruitt, and Giddens higher on his big boards

Imagine how disgusting it would be if the Celtic passed on Fultz and Lakers fans were able to enjoy the future All-NBA guard on their team for the next 15 years? Imagine how happy Magic Johnson would be to be able to pair Fultz with Russell in his backcourt and not have to deal with LaVar Ball? Just the thought of Ainge passing on Fultz and the Lakers getting to reap the rewards makes me want to vomit.

I don't care what your big board says Danny. You don't draft Beasley, Williams, or Turner, over Rose, Irving, or Wall and you don't finally get the #1 overall pick and draft anyone else other than Markelle Fultz.

Related: Chris Mannix: "Markelle Fultz can step right in and be great right away"
Check out this breakdown of Fultz's offense with NBA comps (video)
Markelle Fultz will only work out for the Celtics
Top NBA free agents could have easily been drafted by the Celtics

JR 6/07/2017 03:50:00 PM Edit
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