If there was any doubt before, there isn’t now. Markelle Fultz is going to be the first overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft after the Philadelphia 76ers traded up to the top spot. All reports say that the 76ers made the move with the Boston Celtics in order to select Fultz, who is unquestionably the top prospect in this year’s draft.
Could the 76ers eschew all logic and select someone else? Yes. Is it likely? No.
Fultz being selected first overall is now a ridiculous -10000 at online book [custom:bovada-link]. The next closest player is Lonzo Ball at +1200. Ball is really the only player out there who, maybe, if all the stars aligned and the 76ers are dumb in the head, could shock the world and go first overall over Fultz. Maybe the UCLA product’s pass-first mentality will intrigue the 76ers front office with their young, offensive bigs.
But honestly, this pick is Fultz. Basketball Twitter may implode if it is anyone else.
Markelle Fultz is the best player in the upcoming NBA draft. There is no way around it. Despite playing for an abysmal Washington Huskies team, Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 47.6 percent from the floor. Though he was clearly a big fish in a small pond, Fultz never gave up on his team and fought the urge to play hero ball.
With all that in mind, Fultz is a massive -1000 favorite to be the top overall pick in the draft. He is the closest prospect to a sure thing the NBA has had in several years. He has the frame to grow into, the ability to take over a game offensively and is solid enough on the defensive end to not become a liability.
The top overall pick belongs to the Boston Celtics thanks to the godawful Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics already have a loaded roster and are more than likely going to take the best player available, which is Fultz. The Washington product could easily move to the two for the Celtics and form a backcourt duo with Isaiah Thomas that could be the best in the NBA.
Fultz could also give the Celtics an alternative at the point guard position if they decide to let Thomas walk in free agency in 2018.
Then, we have Lonzo Ball. Putting aside everything but his play on the court, Ball has the ability to vastly improve any team he plays for. Though he had help, look at how Ball’s presence changed UCLA during his freshman campaign. His passing ability and court vision are elite, which makes him insanely effective in transition. There are still questions surrounding his shot and his ability to work in the halfcourt and he is a holdout risk if he doesn’t go to the Lakers, but the Celtics may call his bluff.
Could Josh Jackson find himself in the conversation? Yes. The Kansas product deserves to be in the conversation for the top overall pick, as his high floor makes him an attractive option. Jackson has room to grow offensively but it’s really his defensive ability that makes him special. His proven track record and effort on the defensive end means he could become a truly special lockdown defender.
To be quite frank, any of the other three listed players going first overall would be a monumental shock. Jayson Tatum should be a high-scoring wing player at the next level (something teams will always need), Dennis Smith is an athletic freak who could be one of the best PGs in the NBA if things go right and Lauri Markkanen is the best shooter in the class while also being 7’0”. However, none of these players deserve to be drafted over Fultz, Jackson or Ball.