Markelle Fultz: ‘Me and Isaiah Thomas would be a great backcourt’

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Some 2017 NBA draft prospects were reportedly trying to avoid to the Celtics, who, as the rare playoff team drafting No. 1, are deep and wouldn’t necessarily offer major early playing time.

Don’t count Markelle Fultz among that group.

The consensus No. 1 prospect sounds enthusiastic about Boston (which has sent indications it’ll keep its pick), even though the Celtics already have Isaiah Thomas at point guard.

Fultz, via SiriusXM NBA Radio:

I think that would be a great fit for me, just being able to put me at the one or two and play aside Isaiah Thomas and the other guards. I think I would fit in perfect and just do whatever I have to do to make the team better.

Fultz, via CSN New England:

Me and Isaiah Thomas would be a great backcourt. I think the opportunity that would be there would be amazing, just for him to play off the ball, where I think he’s better at it, or him to play on the ball and I can play off the ball. I think the chemistry would be amazing.

It really doesn’t matter to me, really. I just love the game, and I think I’m versatile enough to play the one or the two. Whatever a team needs me to do to win, I think I’m capable of doing that.

Thomas and Fultz are both better with the ball in their hands, so there would be diminishing returns in pairing them. Thomas, a true star, would get immediate priority.

Sharing an alma mater, Washington, might help forge a connection that gets Thomas and Fultz to work past the fit uneasiness. Fultz at least sounds eager to work at it, which isn’t nothing. But there is something to overcome.

Thomas is 28 and 5-foot-9, traits that suggest he could decline rapidly in a couple years. The 19-year-old Fultz, as polished as he is, will need time to adjust to the NBA. Even if the pairing doesn’t immediately click ideally on the court, they could work well over time – not Thomas and Fultz, but Thomas then Fultz.

In the meantime, Fultz could back up Thomas. And they could sometimes share minutes in hope of developing chemistry. If Fultz meets the hype, a Thomas-Fultz tandem could still excel – even with diminishing returns.

Boston should draft the best prospect available. Drafting is too difficult to get caught up in fit. If that’s Fultz, take him and work out the complications later.

I can’t see the Celtics – whose window to win at a pleasing level is already open – trading Thomas, either. He’s their best player and, often, only reliable offensive threat.

But Boston has several small guards: Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Drafting Fultz could mean dealing one of those other guards.

Drafting Fultz wouldn’t be quite as simple for the Celtics as he indicates, but it could work well – especially if he keeps embracing the situation.