Written by Brad Botkins at CBS Sports.com
For pretty much the past year, it has been assumed by most experts that combo-guard Markelle Fultz was a virtual lock to go No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft. The Celtics might have other plans.
On Thursday, it was reported Boston is considering taking Josh Jackson with the top pick. This is a monster decision for Danny Ainge and there are so many ways he can go, including trading the pick for a proven star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Whatever Boston does with this pick will go a long way in determining whether it is a real championship threat any time soon.
Fultz would be tough to pass on. He’s a three-level scorer with elite playmaking skills and under-appreciated vision. Given his length, strength and athleticism, he has a high defensive ceiling, though he wasn’t great at that end in his one year at Washington. If any other team had the first pick, Fultz almost certainly goes No. 1, but Boston is unique as a team atop the lottery because it is ready to win now and already has Isaiah Thomas, who Ainge says he intends to keep.
But Jackson is a supremely athletic wing who projects as an impact, versatile defender from Day One, and with him on board Boston would resemble Golden State with a host of long, liked-sized perimeter players who can switch all over defensively. Not only that, but Jackson could make guys like Jae Crowder or Jaylen Brown expendable if Boston wants to go after a big name. It was reported that Ainge’s unwillingness to deal Crowder kept a Butler deal from happening at last season’s deadline.
At the same time, Fultz probably has more trade value than Jackson if Boston ends up with an opportunity to move its pick post-draft.