Celtics Blog 2017-

Post Trade Deadline.

Lonzo Fultz: Part I.

By Tom Mahoney

Okay, so I was playing a little bit of a trick on you. I don't care who the top pick in the Draft is. My number one player in the Draft is Fultz and Ball. This article is all about why Danny didn't make the move on Draft Day. The Brooklyn Pick this year is going to give the Celts a 50-50 shot at Lonzo Fultz. You all do realize that right now the Celts have about 50-50 shot at one of these two players.

The Celts Dynastic Picks are a 5-year plan, not a 5-month plan. "What weíve agreed so far is that weíre going to keep Brooklyn pick until the lottery at least, and weíre going to see where it shakes out," Wyk said. "We could trade the pick after we make it. We can trade the pick on [the] night [of the draft]. We could trade that guy in a year. Letís say we add a max free agent this summer, [and then in the Draft] we pick a really good guy, and then we make a trade next February for an impact player. Where did 2018 go in this plan? I donít understand how making a draft pick is inconsistent with winning a championship as soon as possible. I think you guys are a little black and white on this one. I mean, I enjoyed listening to it, but I think thereís a middle ground." These picks can lead to a flash in the pan (George).

Or a Dynasty (Brown, Ball or Fultz, and maybe Michael Porter ("Committed to play for Washington. Porter had an impressive Nike EYBL season, averaging a double-double with 22.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. He helped MOKAN Elite to win Peach Jam with 33 points while shooting 75% from the field in the championship game. With his length, athleticism, and shooting ability.") or Wendell Carter ("A high character kid ... Carter has shown to be a very reliable and productive player. He led Georgia Stars to win the Peach Jam title in 2015, where he earned MVP. He had strong Nike EYBL season this year averaging a double-double with 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. A kid with a great attitude and extremely strong work ethic ... He was one of the few prospects that really impressed NBA scouts at the Nike Academy as he continued to play hard every day as many kids sat out or went through the motions.").

Do you understand how monumental that is? Especially as Jaylen Brown starts to emerge a little, and show some of his great clutch talent. He is also in the unique position of being the 3rd pick in the Draft, and is going to be playing in the East Conference Finals this year (that's right, I said it: Celts-Cavs Eastern Conference Finals). They will be bringing up their rookie top three picks in a Playoff environment, like Magic went through his rookie season with a Lakers team stacked with veteran winners. Instead of a Lottery environment, like most of the Lottery rookies from this past Draft.

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You just cannot tell me that either Ball or Fultz is better than the other. "I think that whole question of whoís going to go one, whoís going to go two, a lot of that will be determined by who gets that pick and their roster composition," a scout said. "If you already have someone at the point and can slide Markelle in next to them it might make some sense, whereas Lonzoís skill-set lends itself more to having the ball in his hands and being that traditional point guard." Both have the size, athleticism, and defense to play the Two if needed early in their career.

Both are the best PG prospects to come out since Kidd, and maybe Magic. "Heís a great player," Fultz said about Ball. "I mean, heís a good point guard. He can pass the ball really well. He can score the ball. He sees the game good. So Iíve got a lot of respect for him." So getting a top two pick is as good as winning Lottery this year (and maybe a top three pick if the Celts want to stash Ntilikina, like Guerschon and Zizic). Plus, Jonathan Isaac and Jayson Tatum are really moving up in the Draft as well.

Fultz is more of an explosive scorer, but Ball is a better rebounder, defender, and passer. "Heís a scorer and I try to get my teammates involved," Ball said about Fultz. "But heís a great player. So whatever he does usually works." Plus, Fultz wins more. He led his team to an undefeated record his senior year of high school, by averaged a triple-double on the season. 

If the Celtics can get either player then all this controversy at the trading deadline will look stupid. "I donít think itís all Lonzo," a scout said. "Heís making those guys better, thereís no question, but if the situation was flipped, I think Markelle would be winning a lot of games with those [Bruins'] guys around him as well." So if I had to chose one? I'd barely take Ball as the 1A play in this Draft.

They had an epic match up earlier this season. "I canít remember a more highly anticipated matchup at one position based on the hype that both of these guys had coming into the season," ex-UCLA baller turned announcer Don MacLean said. "And then the way that Markelle has dominated a lot of games and the way that Lonzo Ball has brought UCLA back from 15-17 to national prominence. These two kids have been the class of this conference, and you just donít get many games like this." They matched up stats just as evenly as I have them rated.

Every NBA GM, scout, exec, owner, coach, and cheerleader watched that game. "Itís not me versus him," Fultz said. "It never is. Thatís not how basketball works. I get that everybody else may be focusing on it, but thatís the furthest thing from my mind." Ball was the fantastic winner in the game.

While Fultz looked more like he was on his own. "I donít ever worry about myself," Fultz said. "I'm more worried about doing what I can do for the team to win." Which seems to be the one thing that he cannot do at Washington.

Without a miracle Washington is not going to make the tournament. "Heís a good player," Fultz said. "I respect him, but at the end of the day my team is trying to beat his team. Whatever I have to do to make that happen thatís what Iím going to do. If it comes down to him having more points or assists and we still win the game, Iím going to be happy. If I beat him and my team loses, it doesnít mean anything because my team always comes before my individual goals." While Ball has UCLA running like a well oiled machine.

Ball makes players around him better, like Magic did. "The last time I saw something like this was Magic Johnson with the Lakers," Washington HC Romar said. "They had players. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on the team. They had some other players. They get Magic Johnson and within a year, itís Showtime. And guys are passing the ball and chest-bumping, and thatís what Lonzo Ball has brought to that team, to me. In one year, itís just changed." He is the best passer in college basketball since Kidd.

Another big difference is that Ball is playing straight up man on PG every night. "I hate to say this, Iím not sure how much mano-a-mano weíre going to see from those two," MacLean said. "UCLA plays a lot of zone." Futz is able to hide in a zone.

Ball put up 22-points 6-rebounds, 5-assists, 4 steals, and blocked one of Fultz shots in the blow out win. "Whatís going to be interesting to me is which coach is going to be willing to put their player out on an island?" MacLean said. "I hope they play 40 minutes of one-on-one and theyíre on each other the entire game. I just donít think weíre going to see it. And thatís a shame." Fultz garnered 25-points, 6-rebounds, 5-assists, and 3 steals in the blow out loss.

Both came as advertised in their match up. Though I thought Ball was better in more ways than one. He exceeded his average in points to match up with Fultz. Fultz got his, and Ball got the win. They are having a rematch Wednesday night at 11:PM (which is tonight) on FS1 at UCLA this time. That game might be the most important game in the recent history of the Celtics.

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