The Boston Celtics are in the envious position of having the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals in the same season.
That's because they cashed in on an terrible decision from the Brooklyn Nets to trade away unprotected first-round picks to Boston in return for the services of heavily-used Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett years ago.
Boston can now add one of the top young players entering the NBA into their mix, along with a chance to adjust their roster in free agency. The Celtics are set to become an even stronger team once the smoke of summer 2017 settles.
The No. 1 pick is quite a piece for the Celtics to have. General manager Danny Ainge is known for collecting assets and holding onto them until the right deal presents itself. The top pick of any draft remains one of the most coveted commodities in the entire league.
That's led to "a handful of teams" to put in a call to the Celtics to inquire about the status of the top pick, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. That's not a surprising revelation, but an important one that Ainge went on record about with less than a month until draft night.
The Celtics could elect to address roster needs by turning their coveted No. 1 pick into a superstar in the immediate. That would eliminate the need to integrate a rookie into a team that was the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs.
Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington is the consensus leader on draft boards, but the Celtics already have some major pieces in play at the position with Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart in the fold already.
“The only thing we know for certain is we have the No. 1 pick. What we don’t know for certain is who that person is yet and what sort of value the pick can get us if we choose to go another direction other than just drafting that pick,” Ainge said.
The Celtics will have plenty of options to sort through, with trade-down possibilities to go with the potential of swinging a blockbuster deal. Players like Paul George and Jimmy Butler could be available if the price is right for both sides.
Boston owns plenty of leverage in this situation, able to sit back and draft the prospect of their choice if a suitor doesn't have an offer that blows them away. The Celtics are in a position that many teams should be green with envy over.