By: John Morgan Francis
The top mystery of the NBA Draft tonight is Danny Ainge and what he plans to do with the third overall pick. Assuming Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball go first and second, Ainge holds the keys to the draft. Boston has worked out Duke’s Jayson Tatum twice and most experts have him as the favorite on their board. However Josh Jackson is also a likely pick, though he failed to work out for the Celtics.
One guy, though, who I believe is flying under the radar is De’Aaron Fox. Ainge was quoted earlier in the week that the player he feels he would have drafted first will be on the board when they draft third. This applies to Tatum and Jackson, however it also applies to Fox.
Last summer the Celtics were expected to take either Kris Dunn, Dragan Bender, Buddy Hield or Jamal Murray with the third pick. Hardly anyone expected them to go with Jaylen Brown, however he turned out to be arguably the best pick out of the five.
This summer we’re expecting them to either trade the pick, take Tatum or Jackson. No one is expecting Fox to be off the board to the Celtics.
The Celtics will retain All-NBA point guard Isaiah Thomas this season but he’ll be a free agent at 29 years old next summer. Boston paying him a $30+ million contract for five years would be unwise.
Fox’s shooting is his only flaw, as he’s the fastest, quickest and arguably most athletic guard in the draft. His defense is also ecstatic. With a year to sit behind Thomas and develop a consistent jump shot, the mature freshman out of Kentucky would be ready to lead the Celtics on both ends of the court in 2018.
Fox’s play style and tools remind me of a more mature John Wall or Rajon Rondo, both who also played at Kentucky.
Since Boston already has their wing of the future (Brown) and will likely land star free agent Hayward this summer, their best option may indeed be to go with Fox.
The Celtics have also been tied to Kristaps Porzingis rumors. Here I examined a possible 3-team trade between the Celtics, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks to land Porzingis in Boston that still allows them to take Fox.
Boston would receive the fifth overall pick (Fox) and Porzingis. Sacramento would receive Marcus Smart, the eighth overall pick and Boston’s 2018 first round pick. New York would receive Jae Crowder, the third overall pick and the 2018 L.A. Lakers pick.
The draft will air on ESPN tonight at 7 P.M. Eastern time.
Twitter handle: @MonJorgan