The possibilities were endless. Isaiah Thomas and Markelle Fultz in the backcourt together, the TD Garden would never be the same once these two took the parquet together. Oh, how quickly the tide can change. On Saturday night, June 17 Boston Celtics’ General Manager Danny Ainge traded the No. 1 pick, presumably Fultz, to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 pick and first round picks in 2018 and 2019.
Now the 76ers are not expected to shock the world and take anyone other than Fultz, but this trade could be a sign of the confusion that defines mock draft boards across the country at the moment. For months it seemed like Lonzo Ball was destined to end up as a Laker, but rumor has it that the purple and gold have had a rise in interest in other prospects like De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson with the No. 2 pick they hold. If Ball is not taken at that pick, look for the Celtics to scoop up Jackson at three.
Outside of the aforementioned four players, swingman Jayson Tatum of Duke, point guard Dennis Smith of North Carolina State and forward Jonathan Isaac from Florida State are three projected top 10 picks that experts have been keeping an eye on in the draft process. If the Celtics do indeed take Jackson, the Phoenix Suns will most likely take Taytum at four while Isaac is projected at No. 6 going to the Orlando Magic and Smith is lightly penciled in at nine, headed to play for the Dallas Mavericks.
Lottery picks aside, there are always a few hidden gems in the first round that far outplay their draft selection. In my mind, Bam Adebayo, Fox’s teammate at Kentucky, is far better than the 18th pick he is being slotted at right now. A baby version of Dwight Howard, the power forward plays with a brute strength that would be unparalleled in the league with the exception of D12. Another potential dark horse is Terrance Ferguson who enters the draft after playing a year in Australia. A dynamic scorer, Ferguson is projected to go 27th to the Brooklyn Nets, who if he ends up falling to will receive a player who is a top 10 talent in this draft.
Blue Chippers aside, the second round is where things really get interesting. Often players taken in the second round are those athletes who analysts consider fringe-worthy in terms of NBA talent or athleticism, but not these guys. Caleb Swanigan from Purdue is projected to go 38th overall right now, but this man child is the best pure center in the class.
One of the few back-to-the-basket threats left on the planet, “Biggie” Swanigan is a double-double machine who will provide a team with a player than can make an impact under the basket immediately. Lastly, the most intriguing name on mock draft boards thus far is Dwayne Bacon, a big-time scorer out of Florida State. Slotted in at the 57th slot right now, this dude can score the ball as well as anyone on the board. Talk about a team looking for someone who can fill it up quickly, Bacon is an underrated swingman who has no trouble tickling the twine.
All projections aside, the magic commences on June 22 at the Barclays Center on ESPN. Do not be surprised if everything I previously said turns out to be completely false.