76ers Select Markelle Fultz No. 1 Overall in 2017 NBA Draft After Celtics Trade

Markelle Fultz is officially a Philadelphia 76er. The Washington point guard was taken No. 1 overall as expected Thursday, kicking off the 2017 NBA draft in fine form. 

Fultz, 18, averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in his lone season at Washington. While the Huskies failed to have much team success, Fultz became a third-team All-American selection and was named to the All-Pac-12 first team.

The attire for each draftee is always a topic of discussion on draft night, and Fultz’s footwear created some buzz:

Scout’s Evan Daniels noted how far Fultz has come:

Sixers forwards Robert Covington, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid welcomed their new teammate, while Kevin Durant chimed in as well:

Here’s how others reacted to the pick:

The Sixers made a foundational change to their rebuilding effort in moving up for Fultz, sending the Boston Celtics the No. 3 overall selection and a future first-round pick to move up two spots. Fultz will join Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the latter the No. 1 overall pick a year ago, to form what Philly hopes will be a process-fulfilling Big Three.

“Embiid, he and I have been talking before when I was in college,” Fultz said, per the Associated Press (via Los Angeles Times). “He’s a cool guy. He’s giving me tips and pointers and he’s pretty funny, so when I saw that it was pretty cool and pretty funny. I’m pretty happy that the players here want me to come here.”

Fultz competed with UCLA guard Lonzo Ball and Kansas swingman Josh Jackson for the top overall pick honors. Most had pegged Fultz as the favorite throughout the process, but Ball’s star power after his brilliant freshman season with the Bruins caused some pause. Ball, thanks in part to his father, LaVar, is an instantly marketable star who already has the big-city shine of Los Angeles.

Fultz has been quieter by comparison, going about his business on a bad Washington team while flashing an all-around game that makes him an excellent modern prospect. His 41.3 percent rate from three-point range comes without any of Ball’s shot hitches, and his 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game help project him as a solid defender.

“I’m a competitor, so anybody that’s in front of me, I’m going to try to take them out,” Fultz said, per the Associated Press (via USA Today). “Lonzo is a great guard, so we’re both competing for the same position. Stepping on the court, I’m going to try and beat him in everything I do, if that’s tying my shoe faster or anything.”

Sixers fans eagerly anticipated Thursday night as the franchise added the kind of player who can truly make the process a success.

The 76ers are likely in for another year or two of continued rebuilding, but the team appears to have the kind of young core that could potentially deliver a fourth NBA title.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

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