After a long weekend of speculation, the moment has finally arrived. The Sixers have officially completed their trade for the No. 1 pick, swapping picks with the Boston Celtics in order to draft point guard Markelle Fultz.
According to a press release from Boston’s website, these are the terms of the trade, beyond swapping No. 1 and No. 3 this year.
The future first round pick will be the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 pick if it’s within the No. 2 to No. 5 range of the 2018 draft. If it is not, the Celtics will instead receive either Sacramento’s or Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2019, whichever is more favorable. However, if either of those 2019 picks result in the first overall selection, Boston will instead receive the other first round pick.
The Sixers are thus protected against any of their picks in the next few years winning the lottery. Though they could end up losing a high-value pick in the exchange, this is a smart way to protect against lightning striking in the lottery.
Philadelphia released a statement on the move, with GM Bryan Colangelo expressing his excitement at the opportunity.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of this trade, which puts us in the enviable position of selecting first overall in consecutive draft years,” Colangelo said. “History suggests that No. 1 has the greatest odds of producing franchise-level talent and we are confident that this year’s draft class has that very potential. Thursday night will see us take another significant step toward building a successful and sustainable basketball program.”
The Sixers are now officially in the driver’s seat, and there is no doubt who they’re going to select with the draft’s top pick. Saturday’s workout at the practice facility was treated like a legitimate event by the team, and rightfully so. Getting the presumed No. 1 pick in your gym would have been a big deal regardless, but with trade talks in the background, everyone knew which direction this was heading.
Take a look at Fultz’s numbers at the University of Washington, and you can see why the Sixers prioritized moving up. Even compared to other high-level guard prospects, Fultz’s blend of efficiency and creativity at a high usage rate is unique. Aside from hiccups at the free-throw line, Fultz’s stat-line—23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists on 47.6/41.3/64.9 splits—was elite.
Deleting videos from my phone and anyway here's Markelle Fultz making a million 3s on Monday pic.twitter.com/4wAQntaWTs— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 17, 2017
Fultz is a late bloomer who was on the JV team at DeMatha Catholic High School during his sophomore year, but you’d never know it watching him play. His skill level is absurd, and he combines an innate sense for making the right play with an excellent set of physical tools. He’s not quite an elite athlete, but he’s big enough (6’4” with a near 6’10” wingspan) and has enough hop in his step to create jaw-dropping highlights at the rim.
The only real knock on his game entering the league is his reputation on defense. Fultz was stellar on that end in international competition as a teenager, but he coasted for long stretches of time at UW. The hope will be that he’ll make use of his tools on that end, and that with help from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on offense, he won’t have to exert as much energy creating.
For the second straight draft, the Sixers will get the guy who stands alone at the top of his class. We get another summer’s worth of Summer League highlights, a full offseason to dream about the new Sixers core, and years to appreciate one of the most exciting collections of young talent in basketball.
Now we just wait until Thursday. Enjoy the highlights.