The Boston Celtics (finally) own the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. And the projected top pick in that draft is a point guard, Washington’s Markelle Fultz. That would seem to place the Celtics, who already employ a franchise point guard in Isaiah Thomas, in a tricky spot.
But Danny Ainge was quick to clear the air Wednesday night: If Boston uses the pick, it’s taking the best player available, regardless of position.
Part of Ainge’s conviction stems from his belief that Thomas and Fultz — or Thomas and any player, for that matter — easily can coexist.
“Isaiah can play with anybody,” the Celtics’ president of basketball operations said at the team’s facility in Waltham, Mass., on Tuesday night. “He can play two-guard, he can play whatever. He’s just a basketball player. He can score, and he’s a great off-the-ball player, as well.”
Thomas has played off the ball plenty of times in this postseason alone, allowing teammates like fellow point guard Marcus Smart or big man Al Horford to handle the ball while he runs through screens to get open. Fultz also is a versatile guard who can excel as a scorer or passer, which suggests the two former Washington Huskies could find a way to get along.
Indeed, Thomas called Fultz “special” back in March and admitted he’d be perfectly fine sharing a backcourt with the 18-year-old guard.
“At the end of the day, we’d be playing together,” Thomas said at the time, via The Boston Globe. “Nobody’s taking my minutes and nobody’s taking my spot. And I can play off the ball or I can play on the ball. I can do a lot of things.”
Thomas’ contract expires at the end of the 2017-18 season so the C’s might have a decision about his long-term future at that point. But judging by recent comments from Ainge and Thomas, there’s a chance we see IT and Fultz in the same backcourt for quite some time if Boston opts to draft the Washington guard in June.
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images