Some have argued that the 76ers surrendered too much to the Boston Celtics just to move up two spots in Thursday’s NBA draft.
However, 76ers president Bryan Colangelo is unapologetic about being in position to draft the player he covets.
Colangelo orchestrated a blockbuster trade that became finalized on Monday. He would not reveal the targeted player, but the worst-kept secret is that the Sixers will use the pick on Washington point guard Markelle Fultz.
The Celtics sent that pick to the Sixers for the No. 3 pick and the protected Los Angeles Lakers first-rounder in 2018, which the Sixers owned. The Celtics will get the pick if it falls in slots 2-5 in next summer’s NBA draft lottery. If it does not, Boston will receive either the Sacramento Kings’ or Sixers’ first-round pick in 2019. The Celtics would take whichever one is more favorable. But if either of those picks become the first overall, the Celtics will receive the other pick.
“We are not pledging anything that mortgages our future,” said Colangelo, whose team also has its own pick in 2018. “We are using house money here. But to have two quality [first-round picks] in ’18 and two quality firsts in ’19, there are only so many picks that can be made with the roster spots that you have.”
Fultz worked out for the Sixers on Saturday night. It’s no secret that the love affair the team has with him is mutual. He posted on his Instagram page a Philly.com photo of him walking into the Sixers practice facility wearing a team cap Saturday night. He wrote “Be Ready ……. #F2G.”
California guard Jabari Bird, who worked out for the Sixers on Monday, thinks Fultz will standout at the next level.
“I think he’s super talented,” said Bird, who played against Fultz in a Pac-12 game this season. “He’s super explosive. He’s super talented. … He can shoot. When I played him, I thought he could do everything offensively.
“He’s so young. I think he’s a special talent.”
The 19-year-old made 41.3 percent of his shots from the college three-point line. Finding a shooter with his three-point skill and the ability to play off the ball was a priority for the Sixers.
The most complete player in the draft, Fultz is also the best option to pair to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
“You want well-rounded players that fit what you’re doing,” Colangelo said. “I think that we have several in the top five or six that could’ve fit a certain way and helped us along.”
But Fultz is the only prospect who can do all of the things the Sixers need in a player.
Colangelo chose not to disclose a name, but Fultz is the consensus No. 1 pick of the draft. The Sixers had pursued the trade with the Celtics for the No. 1 pick since the draft lottery.
Then they wouldn’t agree to the trade unless they were able to meet with and work out Fultz at their facility, according to sources. And Fultz’s camp was not going to meet with the Sixers unless a deal was imminent, according to reports.
“We have a much better idea of where we are today than just a few days ago,” Colangelo said, “and, again, sitting in the number-one spot, we couldn’t be in a better place.”