The NBA's Top Pick Has Been Traded

The NBA's Top Pick Has Been Traded

Over the weekend, the Boston Celtics agreed to a deal that will send the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers. Rumors of the deal were circulating among league writers and analysts for a few days prior to the agreement, and it looks as if we now have a firm outcome.

According to reports, the deal involves only picks and no players. The 76ers will receive this year’s number one pick from Boston. In exchange, they will send their own number three pick in this year’s draft back to Boston, in addition to the Lakers’ 2018 first round pick (to which the 76ers had the rights) if it falls in the 2-5 range. If the pick doesn’t fall in this range, the 76ers will instead send their rights to the Kings’ 2019 first round pick to Boston.

What that adds up to is Celtics general manager Danny Ainge—a notoriously shrewd dealer—turning the number one pick into two high first round picks, either this year and next year, or this year and in 2019. But what does it really mean for both teams?

How The Pick Helps The Celtics

This pick helps the Celtics in three different ways. The first is that it directly maximizes the value of the top overall pick the team drew in the draft lottery. If reports are to be believed, the Celtics valued presumptive number one pick Markelle Fultz about evenly with Josh Jackson (and potentially Jayson Tatum as well). Thus, trading down from number one to number three theoretically doesn’t lose them anything—and they gained a future high first round pick. If Ainge truly values Fultz, Jackson, and Tatum equally then he gained that pick for nothing, from his perspective.

The second benefit is that the Celtics now have the ability to avoid an awkward in-house situation. Isaiah Thomas, the team’s current point guard, played like an MVP this past season and became arguably the team’s most beloved star since Larry Bird. Most believed Fultz could play alongside Thomas, but both are ultimately point guards. Thomas is also approaching 30 and recently sustained a fairly serious leg injury. Drafting Fultz would have looked a lot like pushing out the fan-favorite MVP candidate playing the same position.

Most importantly, the trade makes the Celtics competitive whenever they choose to be competitive. That could mean now, if they decided to trade some of their assets for a star player or two and make a run at the title next year. There's also an argument to be made for waiting. The 2016-17 Warriors were one of the best teams of all time, but heading into the finals oddsmakers at markets covering a broad swath of events still felt that the Cleveland Cavaliers were a strong contender to give Golden State a run for their money. That speaks to how there were two teams dominating each respective conference. The Celtics have enough talent to compete on a second tier for now, and have enough picks to set themselves up as one of the best teams of the future, after the Warriors and Cavaliers finish their runs.

How The Pick Helps The Sixers

The main benefit for the 76ers is the addition of Fultz, who will almost surely be the top pick. We’ve written about Fultz already as a potential Sixers addition, and it really can’t be overstated how perfect he is for this team. Word is that the coaching staff wants 6’10’’ rookie Ben Simmons (who sat out last season due to injury after being a top overall pick himself) to play point guard. Fultz is an ideal scoring guard to run alongside him, and can also take over point guard duties if the Simmons experiment fails. He’s also capable of defending opposing point guards even if Simmons is bringing the ball up.

The move should also play well to a fan base desperate to compete. The majority of Sixers fans seem to have bought into “The Process” that saw the team tank for about five years to land young talent. Now, with several young players with star potential on the roster, selecting Fultz will be viewed as a move that declares they’re ready to start trying to win. That should pack the stadium, and could generate one of the most enthusiastic fan bases in the league.

Who Won The Deal?

It’s impossible to say right now. We won’t know who won this trade until we see how good Fultz is and find out what the Celtics do with their stockpile of picks. Some believe Danny Ainge is stockpiling assets to make a run at Anthony Davis or a similarly elite superstar. Others think that he’ll continue to use the picks himself and construct a young core that can emerge after the Cavaliers vs. Warriors era is finished.

The most interesting thing is that either way, the 76ers and Celtics are positioning themselves to compete in the near future. They might just wind up battling one another as the next titans of the Eastern Conference.

Pakistan wins Champions Trophy, crushes archrival India
India has been the most successful team in the Champions Trophy history with this being the fourth final for the side. Talking about his bowlers, Kohli said, "With the ball, we could have had more wicket-taking opportunities".

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