Most analysts project Markelle Fultz to go first overall to the Boston Celtics in the 2017 NBA Draft, but the one-and-done Washington guard came in to work out for the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday anyway.
Fultz admitted he’d rather go No. 1 for “competitive reasons,” but if what happens in the draft is the unexpected and Fultz falls to the Lakers, he thinks it could be a great fit.
"I think my biggest strength is playmaking ability, on or off the ball,” Fultz said, noting that those versatile skills would fit well alongside the Lakers incumbent lottery guard, D’Angelo Russell.
Fultz averaged 23.2 points and 5.9 assists per game in his lone year at Washington as the lead distributor. While he would likely play a similar role with the Lakers, his shooting — Fultz made 41.3 percent of his five 3-point attempts per game — would allow him to run off screens or space the floor properly when Russell was being given the opportunity to attack or make plays.
Fultz wanted to show the Lakers more than just his shooting and playmaking skills, however:
What did Fultz try to show today? "I just think the way I can shoot the ball, my work ethic, how hard I play."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 15, 2017
The Lakers evidently liked what they saw:
Fultz on feedback from LAL: "Just a pretty good job. They saw I worked hard. They saw that I had the mechanics to shoot the ball right."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) June 15, 2017
Still, despite the Boston Celtics’ spotty drafting history, it seems highly unlikely they’ll pass on Fultz. It sounded like he’s ready for whatever happens:
Markelle Fultz on if he has a preference on being No. 1 or No. 2 pick. pic.twitter.com/aNKvds8fmg— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) June 15, 2017
Fultz and his people went up into the Lakers offices after the workout ended. Fultz's mom was here. They'll discuss other workouts next.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) June 15, 2017
And if the Lakers and Celtics end up with Fultz and Lonzo Ball, the two might be ready to reignite the rivalry once more:
Markelle Fultz on rivalry with Lonzo Ball: “Stepping on the court, I’m trying to beat him in everything that I do..." pic.twitter.com/xXh0AaSGy0— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) June 15, 2017
Provided Fultz doesn’t drop to the Lakers though, much like the Celtics have to look back with pain about the infamous picture of Kobe Bryant working out for them, Lakers fans will always have the small memory of what Fultz looks like in purple and gold to (possibly) eat at them a bit:
Fultz on playing for the Lakers: "For sure I can see myself playing here, it’s a great city a great team, a lot of history behind this team"— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) June 15, 2017
Here is an updating list of every player the Lakers have worked out or met with. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.