On Monday, a blockbuster trade became official -- as the Boston Celtics traded the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return, Boston will receive the No. 3 pick in the draft. The draft package will additionally include the Los Angeles Lakers 2018 first-round pick, or the Sacramento Kings 2019 first-round pick (depending on draft placement).
It's a wacky turn of events, considering many had pegged Boston selecting Washington PG Markelle Fultz with the first-overall pick. Now, this deal clears the way for Philadelphia to snag the widely-perceived best player in a loaded draft.
Let's take a look individually at how this will impact each franchise, and ultimately the winner of the trade:
This is a very fascinating move from Boston's perspective. The Isaiah Thomas situation is something that's been lingering throughout the franchise. Coming off of an All-Star season, Thomas is the most dynamic player on the roster. His ability to create on the offensive end of the floor is special -- as is his penchant for making big shots. With that said, Thomas will be turning 29 this upcoming February. He also is slated to become a free agent at the conclusion of this season.
Does Boston want to give a (generously listed) 5'9" point guard a max deal -- particularly when it's nearly impossible for Thomas to guard anyone at even a passable level? With the No. 1 pick landing in Boston's lap, one would presume the Celtics would nab Fultz. While Boston doesn't necessarily need another guard, Fultz would provide the franchise cover in the event that they let Thomas walk. The duo also have ties to the University of Washington -- and have since forged a friendship this past year. All of that is for naught, as GM Danny Ainge dealt the pick to Philly.
It could be a case where Boston simply did not rate Fultz as the top pick in the draft. It's also plausible to believe Ainge wanted to move down in order to pick up another asset, and also select their preferred target (such as Jayson Tatum or Josh Jackson). Boston will get the Lakers' pick next season (assuming it falls within the 2-5 range). If it does, they'll be in line to get a (presumed) high draft choice from Philadelphia or Sacramento in 2019 (depending upon where it falls).
Ainge continues to be masterful when accruing assets. The Celtics now have seven first-round draft picks in the next three drafts.
While the frontcourt is loaded with burgeoning talent (Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric), Philadelphia deemed it necessary to add an elite talent to its backcourt.
Fultz -- assuming he is the pick -- will upgrade the 76ers in a number of areas. For one, he's excellent at scoring the basketball. Fultz is both explosive and crafty with the ball in his hands. His ability to shoot from the perimeter will help in unclogging the floor. Duly, he can play off of the ball. This is something to note, considering Simmons will initially function as a point forward in Brett Brown's offense. The expected addition of Fultz also gives Philadelphia a mini "Big Three" heading into the future. While it's no sure thing that the trio will pan out, it's arguably the most talented troika of young basketball players in the entire league.
Assuming both Simmons and Embiid stay healthy, there's big reason to believe that this team will contend for a playoff spot this upcoming season.
Philadelphia is not a loser in this scenario. It's poised to add another fantastic talent to its already deep stable of assets. Fultz has the look of a true lead guard -- and one with the ceiling of an All-Star.
With that said, Boston is poised for a potential seismic move. It's no coincidence Ainge has been stockpiling picks. A team on the cusp of Championship contention will not stand pat with an array of green (no pun intended) and inexperienced players. This move was calculated...and most certainly a domino falling into place. We don't exactly know what this trade means, but we can assume Boston will attempt to move a couple of these assets for a proven commodity such as Jimmy Butler. This move gave Boston even more flexibility in order to truly challenge Cleveland in the East.
Image Source: Joel Embiid's Instagram Account, The Seattle Times, Boston.com