Markelle Fultz needs to become a Boston Celtic on June 22, it’s just that simple. I haven’t watched him play many games live, but from what I have seen (a lot of youtube clips) and read, I think he’s going to be the real deal.
To start, he is very gifted size wise. At 6-4 with close to a 7-foot wingspan (6-10), Fultz has the tools and ability to immediately become a very elite player on both offense and defense. His stat line this past season should tell you everything you need to know about what this kid has the potential of turning into offensively:
23 points, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds at the college level is something we don’t see very often. I get that he wasn’t playing against a lot of top tier talent his freshman year, but when he did see good teams he was still very productive. In games against Top-25 ranked opponents, he averaged 22.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Just from looking at the numbers and watching him play, it’s easy to tell that he has the ability to become a go-to scorer in the NBA. This is something that I think the Celtics desperately need because right now their only consistent go-to scorer is Isaiah Thomas. And teams in this year’s playoff have shown us that they are very capable of completely taking him out of a game. So why not add another potentially elite scorer to pair with the one you already have?
Defense is the one area that I feel Fultz needs to really improve at if he is going to be an elite NBA player. Sometimes he looked like he was falling asleep off-ball, and he never really looked like he was locked in on defense 100% of the time. These problems are very fixable, especially under a coach like Brad Stevens who is constantly emphasizing to his guys how important defense is. But again, with his height and wingspan, he certainly has the potential to become a great defender if he can put it all together on that end of the floor. I’m not all that worried about this.
Having Fultz on this roster could also benefit the Celtics from a financial standpoint. Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley will all be set to hit free agency in the next two years. Financially it will be close to impossible to retain all three guys unless they come back on small deals, but the chances of that happening feel pretty slim to me. Because of this, Fultz will become the ultimate insurance option, making it hurt the team a bit less if one of these guys is to get their money elsewhere. He will also still be on his rookie deal, giving them flexibility and allowing them to maybe add players at different positions of need.
My last reason the Celtics need to take Fultz is probably the most simple one of them all. As long as LeBron James is still kicking teams around the Eastern Conference, I don’t think the Celtics should try just building for the “now”. If they want to be winning championships in the post-LeBron era, they have to start with this year’s draft. You can’t do that if you trade this year’s pick for Jimmy Butler, Paul George, or even Kristaps. Unless they’re receiving Anthony Davis or Karl-Anthony Towns (which is extremely unlikely), they need to hang on to this pick. There is no need to mortgage the future of this team just to lose to LeBron or the Warriors.
Danny Ainge is a smart guy, and I think he’s going to do the right thing with this years pick. I know he’ll probably never read this, but please don’t let me down, Danny. Here are some of Fultz highlights from this past season if you haven’t already seen how nasty he is:
P.S. check me out on this week’s episode of the Loose Change podcast. Share and subscribe on iTunes.
Written By: Nick Cherico (@NickCherico2)