The Philadelphia 76ers thrilled their fans and left some suspense surrounding Thursday’s NBA draft.

The team announced Monday it had acquired the No. 1 overall pick in a trade with the Boston Celtics.

But 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo declined to identify whom the 76ers would select. The speculation is Philadelphia will choose 6-foot-4 guard Markelle Fultz, who worked out for the 76ers at the team’s Camden training complex Saturday night.

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Boston will get the Sixers’ pick, No. 3 overall, and another first-rounder in 2018 or 2019.

“The odds are in your favor at No. 1 more so than in any other (draft) position,” Colangelo said during a news conference Monday afternoon. “The player chosen may end up being a franchise-level player. It’s a deep (draft) class, but we felt the move from three to one was worth the cost of a first-round pick in the future.”

This is the second straight season the 76ers will have the No. 1 pick. They selected Ben Simmons last year, but he missed all of the 2016-17 season with a broken foot.

“We’re taking the next step in formulating a solid young core of players that will ultimately lead to a successful and sustainable product,” Colangelo said. “That’s our goal. That’s where we want to be. With the certainty of No. 1, we know we control our circumstances.”

Which pick the Celtics will receive in 2018 or 2019 is a bit complicated. The 76ers were in position to make the deal because of the assets they acquired under former general manager Sam Hinkie. Philadelphia owns the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 pick and the Sacramento Kings’ 2019 pick.

Boston will receive the Lakers’ 2018 pick if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5. If it doesn’t, Boston will get either the 76ers’ or the Kings’ pick in 2019.

Even with the trade, Philadelphia still will have a combined three first-round picks in the 2018 and 2019 drafts.

“We haven’t taken a step outside the draft,” Colangelo said. “We’re not mortgaging our future. In a sense, we’re using house money.”

All indications are the 76ers will select Fultz, who grew up in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, and played his freshman season at the University of Washington. The point guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists for the 9-22 Huskies.

Philadelphia fans and media in favor of the trade say Fultz would mesh well with Simmons. Fultz, 19, is attractive for Philadelphia because he can play point and shooting guard. He shot 41.3 percent from 3-point range at Washington, and the 76ers need a shooter. Fultz also has the quickness and length — he has a 7-foot wingspan — to be an excellent defender.

The 76ers may not be done dealing. The team has four second-round picks. The 76ers could package some of those packs with an existing player — such as center Jahlil Okafor — to get another first-round selection.

“There’s a lot of interest in our picks,” Colangelo said. “We’re lining up options. There’s a lot of activity. Some bids have come in. We’re assessing and evaluating all of those alternatives.”

Philadelphia began its rebuilding project — dubbed The Process — in 2013. The 76ers are 75-253 since then. But the addition of Fultz to a talented albeit unproven young core that includes Simmons, center Joel Embiid and power forward Dario Saric would certainly make the 76ers one of the NBA’s most intriguing teams next season.

Philadelphia gave fans a possible glimpse of the future when it won 10 of 15 games in January.

“I think January gave everyone a taste of what success feels like,” Colangelo said. “If you stepped inside our business office, you’d probably hear a bell ringing a lot. A bell rings every time someone sells a new season ticket. I would venture to say we’re going to be sold out this year playing to full capacity every night.”



Twitter @AcpressMcGarry

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

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