CAMDEN, N.J. — The draft night fireworks have happened three days ahead of schedule.
On Monday, the Sixers finalized a deal to acquire the No. 1 overall pick from the Celtics in exchange for the No. 3 pick and a protected future first-round pick. The Celtics will acquire the 2018 Lakers pick the Sixers own if it falls between No. 2 and 5. If the Lakers pick does not convey, the Sixers will send the better of their own 2019 pick and the Kings' selection. However, the Celtics will receive the lesser pick if either 2019 pick is No. 1 overall.
“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,” Sixers vice president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a press release. “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 expected to draft 6-foot-4 Washington guard Markelle Fultz. He traveled from Maryland to work out for the team on Saturday night as trade talks heated up. Fultz, 19, averaged 23.2 points (47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three), 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds last season. He led all freshmen in the nation in scoring.
The deal is a win-win for both sides.
The Sixers get the player that best fits their needs at No. 1. Fultz adds instant offense and long-range shooting to a team that finished 25th in points per game and tied for 24th in three-point percentage last season. More importantly, he can complement Ben Simmons playing off the ball when Simmons is running the point.
“It would be great,” Fultz said of playing for the Sixers. “Get up and down. They're big on defense so I think the tools that I have to be a defensive player I think would help them get out in transition. I'm a pretty good shot blocker for a point guard, so I think helping them with that, everything would pretty much help with that.
Fultz already has expressed his excitement to play in Philadelphia. He arrived at the training complex wearing his own Sixers hat, planned to get a cheesesteak after his workout, and took a photo with Simmons, Joel Embiid and Robert Covington.
The Celtics can do what they like with the third pick. Given their lengthy history of trades, that doesn’t necessarily mean keep it. They have plenty of time to package that pick in another deal to land a more established player that will help them compete now versus building for the future. Or, the C's could hold onto the pick and select a small forward to add needed perimeter scoring. The Celtics will continue to add to their overflowing stockpile of first-round picks with the inclusion of the protected first-round pick.
The Sixers' work is not done. They still have four second-round picks to address in the draft.