News broke on Friday that the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were in deep talks involving a trade for the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. If true, this would be an absolute coup for the Sixers, as presumptive No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz would be a incredible acquisition for the franchise’s young roster.
Just how good is Fultz? Well, I’ve repeatedly said his talent level relative to the rest of his draft class is on par with that of Karl-Anthony Towns against his draft class in 2015. Fultz is the best player and it’s clear. He has zero flaws in his game, room for growth and can do everything on the floor, including defend.
The thing is, the Celtics don’t really need a guard for the future who will only see bench minutes now. They already have an excellent backcourt tandem in Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, and are in win-now mode. Fultz would likely be wasted in Boston.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia boasts a ton of young assets and Fultz would only add to that stockpile. If the Sixers can somehow get everyone healthy (something that just hasn’t happened yet), they could feature a lineup that included Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor and Fultz. All of those guys are 23 or younger, all were lottery picks and all have incredibly high ceilings.
With the way the NBA is going these days, I don’t see any potential issues with Fultz and Simmons sharing the ball in the backcourt. The league is eschewing traditional roles, so you’re seeing the classic point guard position evolve away from the sole ball-handler and distributor. Multiple guys can handle the ball and make plays now, and combo guards are all the rage. I doubt Simmons or Fultz would balk at sharing the load in Philly.
If they somehow pull this off, the Sixers will have made a brilliant power move. While the roster would need time to gel, this trade could alter the balance of power in the Eastern Conference for the next decade.