ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported that top prospect Markelle Fultz has met with Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge on several occasions, and he hopes to be selected with the team’s first overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
Fultz told ESPN, “I want to be the No. 1 pick really badly. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and I feel I would fit well in Boston.” His declaration stands out in stark contrast to Lonzo Ball’s recent decision to decline an invitation to work out with the Celtics and is a heartening revelation for anyone concerned that Fultz might not want to come to a team where playing time may be difficult to come by.
Fultz, a sizable guard with impressive start-stop athleticism, a knack for scoring, and advanced pick-and-roll ability, is seen by some to be duplicative of Boston’s current talent, particularly star point guard Isaiah Thomas. There is logic in that reasoning. Thomas and Fultz share a primary strength in creating offense with the ball in their hands, and both provide reason for concern on the defensive end.
Each has indicated a belief in their ability to share the floor, however. Fultz cited their ability to play on and off the ball as a major reason why. He told Goodman, “We can both score and also pass. I think we’d be great together.”
The two players, both of whom attended Washington University, have developed a friendship, though recent discussion has not focused on basketball. Fultz told ESPN, “When we've talked since the lottery, we haven't really talked about basketball much. He's been through a lot lately.”
While their focus on basketball in personal conversation has rightfully lessened in the face of the recent events of Thomas’s life, both players have now publicly endorsed the possibility of playing together.
Should the Celtics draft him, Fultz will have plenty to prove before he spends major minutes next to Thomas, but it would appear he is up for the challenge. That’s an encouraging sign and an early indication that Fultz is likely to buy into the culture in Boston. That’s not a reason to take him with the number-one pick, but it certainly doesn’t hurt, and there are plenty of other basketball-related reasons to do so.