Sure, Isaiah Thomas probably is somewhat biased when analyzing the top of the 2017 NBA Draft.
But the Boston Celtics point guard also knows what it takes to play at an All-Star level in the NBA, so one shouldn’t dismiss his admiration for University of Washington point guard Markelle Fultz as blind hype for a player tearing it up as his alma mater.
Thomas, who played three seasons at Washington from 2008 to 2011, told MassLive.com’s Jay King last week in Los Angeles that Fultz “will be the No. 1 pick, for sure.”
This, of course, is significant for several reasons, the biggest of which is the Celtics, who own the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in this year’s draft, might end up with the top overall selection given that Brooklyn owns by far the NBA’s worst record.
“He has all the tools,” Thomas said of Fultz, according to King. “He can shoot, pass, he’s athletic. He’s got nice size. He plays at his own pace. That’s something you can’t teach. Like, he’s so poised in any type of situation.”
Thomas, who played in pickup games with Fultz last summer, isn’t alone in thinking the current Huskies star, a freshman who turns 19 in May, will go first overall in June. Many experts feel the same way — UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is the other player most commonly linked to the No. 1 pick — and Thomas is confident Fultz would thrive at the next level even if he needed to change his game to become more of an off-the-ball player in Boston, where I.T. currently runs the point.
“When we first played together, when he first got on campus, you knew that day: he’s special,” Thomas said, according to King.
Perhaps the Celtics will trade the Nets pick this summer in a deal for a superstar, something they’ve explored doing for a while. If not, Fultz could be the guy they end up with, especially now that he has a ringing endorsement from Boston’s best player.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images