Who’s No. 3? NBA draft intrigue begins after Fultz, Ball
NEW YORK (AP) — Markelle Fultz is still expected to be the No. 1 pick, though the destination has changed.
Lonzo Ball wants to stay home with the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2, and it seems surer than ever he will.
The intrigue, then, starts with the No. 3 pick in the NBA draft Thursday.
That’s where the Boston Celtics are scheduled to pick after moving down two spots in a trade with Philadelphia, giving the 76ers the right to select Fultz with their second No. 1 pick in two years.
Forwards Josh Jackson of Kansas and Jayson Tatum of Duke are two players frequently mentioned as possibilities at the No. 3 spot, and Celtics president Danny Ainge said Boston could get the player there they might have taken at No. 1.
Jackson never thought that would be him, so he said he didn’t work out for the Celtics.
“Me and my agent talked and we just didn’t feel like they had much interest in drafting me at No. 1, so we felt like it would be sort of a waste of time for me to go out and work out if they were really not considering drafting me,” Jackson said. “After they got the third pick, we tried to schedule something for me to get out there. But it was just scheduling issues and it was a little delayed for me to get out there.”
He said he had been open to working out for the Celtics and said it was possible they might draft him, anyway.
Tatum and the Celtics seem to have more familiarity, with the 6-foot-8 swingman believing he’d be a good fit on the roster of the team that had the best record in the Eastern Conference.
“I talked about that with coach Brad Stevens,” Tatum said. “He just said guys that are my size and are versatile offensively and defensively, it’s hard not to play those guys. That’s what we talked about.”
Other things to watch from Barclays Center:
IT’S GOT TO BE THE SHOES: When Fultz walks on stage to shake hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, he recommends you check out his feet.
“Pay attention to my footwear,” the Washington guard said. “I’m going to have some custom-made shoes that I think nobody ever had before.”
LOVING LONZO — AND LAVAR: Ball acknowledged that there might be a “target” on him entering the draft because of all his father’s comments. But if the Lakers want Lonzo — and it seems they do after trading point guard D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn — they won’t be turned off by LaVar.
“They were just open arms,” Lonzo said of his Lakers workout. “They said they love my dad and left it at that.”
THEIR TIME TO SHINE: With so much trade speculation about All-Stars such as Paul George and Jimmy Butler, there hasn’t been as much focus as usual leading into Thursday on the players who are in the draft.
“We don’t need that attention,” Kentucky guard Malik Monk said. “We’re going to get ours tomorrow.”
FRESHMAN FUN: The record of 14 freshmen selected in the first round might last just one year. Of the 20 players expected to be in the green room, 13 were college one-and-dones.
DULL DRAFT: Neither Golden State nor Cleveland, who met in the NBA Finals, has a pick in the two-round draft. The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies also are without a pick, while Houston, New Orleans and Washington don’t have one in the first round.
INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE: A year after nearly half the draft — a record 27 of the 60 picks — were international players, French guard Frank Ntilikina and Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen, who played a year at Arizona, are two of the top international players. Both have met with the New York Knicks, who scored well two years ago when they went overseas with their pick of Latvian Kristaps Porzingis — to whom Markkanen has been compared as a 7-footer with perimeter shooting skills.
Markkanen was asked about potentially playing with or replacing Porzingis, who team president Phil Jackson told MSG Network on Wednesday the Knicks are taking calls about after he left New York without attending his exit interview.
“I try not to think about it too much,” Markkanen said. “I’ve been doing my work here and I’m just waiting for tomorrow night and whatever happens, happens.”
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