Even after the beatdown loss that was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, it's still a good time to be a Boston Celtics fan.
With the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Celtics have the potential to build a dynasty in two different ways: 1) Draft the best player available and build a contender organically or 2) Trade the pick in a package for a star player to compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers as soon as next year.
I think trading the pick for the likes of Jimmy Butler or Paul George would be a rash decision, and I would prefer to see the Celtics draft Markelle Fultz and build a contender for when LeBron James' grip on the Eastern Conference loosens with age, but I'm not going to even try to get inside of the mind of General Manager Danny Ainge.
All options aside, the Celtics are in good hands with a bright future no matter what they do. As for some franchises, this draft will determine the fate of their immediate and distant futures, particularly those who missed out on a top-three selection.
Here's a look at my updated mock draft following the lottery:
|2017 NBA Mock Draft|
|1. Celtics (via BKN)||Markelle Fultz, G, Washington|
|2. Lakers||Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA|
|3. 76ers||De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky|
|4. Suns||Josh Jackson, F, Kansas|
|5. Kings (via PHI)||Jayson Tatum, F, Duke|
|6. Magic||Frank Ntilikina, G, France|
|7. Timberwolves||Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State|
|8. Knicks||Malik Monk, G, Kentucky|
|9. Mavericks||Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona|
|10. Kings (via NO)||Dennis Smith Jr., G, NC State|
|11. Hornets||Ivan Rabb, F, California|
|12. Pistons||Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga|
|13. Nuggets||Moritz Wagner, F, Michigan|
|14. Heat||Isaiah Hartenstein, F, Germany|
|15. Trail Blazers||TJ Leaf, F, UCLA|
|16. Bulls||John Collins, F, Wake Forest|
|17. Bucks||Tony Bradley, C, North Carolina|
|18. Pacers||Jarrett Allen, C, Texas|
|19. Hawks||Justin Jackson, F, North Carolina|
|20. Trail Blazers (via MEM)||OG Anunoby, F, Indiana|
|21. Thunder||Dwayne Bacon, F, Florida State|
|22. Nets (via WAS)||Terrance Ferguson, G, Australia|
|23. Raptors (via LAC)||Jordan Bell, F, Oregon|
|24. Jazz||Josh Hart, G, Villanova|
|25. Magic (via TOR)||Jonathan Jeanne, C, France|
|26. Trail Blazers (via CLE)||Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA|
|27. Nets (via BOS)||Luke Kennard, G, Duke|
|28. Lakers (via HOU)||Justin Patton, C, Creighton|
|29. Spurs||Harry Giles, C, Duke|
|30. Jazz (via GSW)||Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina|
No. 1 Boston Celtics: Markelle Fultz, Guard, Washington
This is a no-brainer for Boston.
Drafting Fultz is the easiest decision the Celtics will ever have to make in the draft. Forget about trades, forget about Butler and George. Unless a deal floats around that means the Celtics can trade for a player like Anthony Davis, don't even bother exploring it.
Fultz can provide valuable minutes and scoring off the bench the moment he takes the floor at TD Garden, as he averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game for the Huskies as a freshman. He can complement any back court pairing of Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier and even Isaiah Thomas, who said the two could figure out how to play with one another if he was the top pick.
Chris Forsberg @ESPNForsberg
IT on talking with potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz: "He’s a good friend of mine. If it happens, we’ll figure out how to play together."2017-5-18 19:42:27
It's understandable to question the selection from the outside looking in. The Celtics are loaded with guards, so why would they draft Fultz? Well, here's why.
Bradley and Thomas are in line for big paydays next summer, and it's more likely than not that Thomas will be receiving a max from the Celtics while Bradley will be offered a near-max deal elsewhere and likely won't settle for another bargain deal with Boston.
Also, Smart's contract is set to expire, so Boston's backcourt situation could be quite bare next summer, particularly if they go chasing after Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency, which they most likely will, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Free Agency Rumor: Celtics focused on Gordon Hayward https://t.co/cFwoDImdAT https://t.co/dwFKu93wf32017-5-19 01:56:08
There's a lot of moving parts for this franchise and a lot of tough decisions that will need to be made sooner rather than later. But for now, the choice is simple. Draft Fultz and don't look back.
No. 4 Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson, Forward, Kansas
The Phoenix Suns may have missed out on a top-three selection in this year's draft, but fortunately for them, they won't miss out on the player they need in Josh Jackson.
Jackson has the potential to be the best two-way coming out of this year's draft, and that includes the likes of Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball.
Jackson's combination of athleticism and size (6'8", 207 lbs) projects him to be a force on both ends of the floor—all he really needs to do is hone in on his jumpshot to become a real terror for opposing defenses at the next level.
ESPN's Tim Legler seems to think he has star potential as well:
He will develop into a shooter in the NBA. He's the closest guy to Kawhi Leonard coming into the league - @LegsESPN on Josh Jackson2017-5-17 14:21:27
While he does need to improve his offensive game, he's still pretty darn good as it is. Jackson shot 51.3 percent from the floor and scored 16.3 points while registering 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.
Not bad for a freshman in college.
When you combine an ability to attack the basket, efficient shooting and the strength to play lockdown defense, there aren't many players coming out of their freshman year of college like this.
The Celtics won't take Jackson with the top selection, since they just drafted Jaylen Brown a year ago to be the future at the small forward position and they still have Jae Crowder on the roster. There's a chance that the Lakers or 76ers could pick him, too, but the Lakers wouldn't have room on the floor with Brandon Ingram playing, and the 76ers would be way too crowded if Ben Simmons can make his way back to the court.
The Suns have a franchise piece in Devin Booker, and they'll pair him with another fast-rising prospect in Jackson.
No. 7 Minnesota Timberwolves: Jonathan Isaac, Forward, Florida State
Originally, i had Jonathan Isaac getting drafted by the New York Knicks in my first mock draft before the lottery results came out, but since then, I've had a change of heart.
With the Knicks drafting eighth overall and the Timberwolves slotted at No. 7, it would be interesting to see Minnesota draft Isaac, a dynamic, athletic 6'10" forward to complement Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Isaac would move to the power forward spot, but he would have to bulk up his 210-pound frame in order to survive an NBA season.
A pairing of Isaac and KAT would be a nightmare for opposing big men, who would not be able to keep with the pace up and down the court. Throw in Wiggins and a soon-to-be healthy Zach LaVine, and the Timberwolves could be dangerous and fast on both ends of the floor.
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman also thinks Isaac to Minnesota makes a lot of sense:
Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass
Jonathan Isaac to Minnesota makes too much sense. P-n-R defense between Wiggins/Towns. Scores by taking what D gives him. Unselfish player.2017-5-17 02:43:48
He's not as seasoned and ready to play as Fultz or Jackson, but under the tutelage of head coach Tim Thibodeau in Minnesota, Isaac could project to be a future All-Star.
Isaac will bring length to the Timberwolves inside, rebound effectively (7.8 rebounds per game at Florida Stae) and shoot a respectable clip from three-point range (34.8 percent), which Minnesota would love to see become a little more consistent to truly be able to spread the floor for his athletic perimeter players.
The Timberwolves could always go in a different direction and draft a player like Malik Monk or Frank Ntilikina with the seventh pick, but Isaac would be a better fit for the roster, especially when you consider that the team still has Ricky Rubio, LaVine and rookie Kris Dunn at the guard positions.
Take Isaac and watch him blossom.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise noted.