Celtics president Danny Ainge: ‘There’s a really good chance the player that we’ll take at 3 was the same player we would have taken at 1’

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The Celtics traded the No. 1 pick to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder.

Why would Boston bypass an opportunity to draft Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia’s presumed selection now?

As Celtics president Danny Ainge tells it, the deal was practically a no-brainer.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly

According to multiple reports, Fultz was atop Boston’s draft board. Were those reports wrong, or is Ainge just spinning after trading away an opportunity to draft Fultz?

I believe, though am not certain, the Celtics would have picked Fultz if they kept the No. 1 pick. I also believe they saw minimal separation between Fultz and the player they’ll take at No. 3 – seemingly Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum.

If there’s little difference between Fultz and either of those forwards, the trade is an easy call for Boston. The Celtics added a valuable asset in the process – the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder if it falls 2-5 or, if not, the higher of the Kings’ and 76ers’ 2019 first-rounders (unless one is No. 1, in which case it’d be the lower of the selections).

I’m just not nearly convinced the No. 3 pick will match Fultz’s production. Fultz is such an advanced offensive player for his age. Jackson and Tatum carry many more question marks.

The Celtics are betting on their evaluations, both of Fultz and Jackson and/or Tatum. They don’t need the No. 3 pick to surpass Fultz, but he better come pretty close.