Management of the Philadelphia 76ers told their long-suffering fans to Trust the Process. After the 2017 NBA Draft, the trust may be rewarded with a team that is ready to compete for years to come. The Sixers decided to select Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick, a pick made possible by trading up with the Boston Celtics.
Philadelphia 76ers select Markelle Fultz with First Overall Pick
Fultz spent one season with the Huskies, leading all freshmen with 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game in 25 games. He consistently showed the talent one expects from a lottery pick even though Washington finished the season 9-22 (2-16 Pac-12) with 13 consecutive losses.
What Fultz Brings to the Sixers
“He brings to the table a great athleticism,” Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo said. “Multi-talented in terms of his offensive skill set. He gets to the basket, he penetrates, he’s elusive, he can handle the ball. He’s what you’d call your prototypical combo guard, a combo guard that can score in many ways, including shooting from the perimeter.”
“It’s an opportunity that we feel, just basketball-wise, playing alongside Ben Simmons, playing alongside Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and others—many others—that it was the right player, the right piece to move this situation forward.”
Fultz joins a Sixers team that is heavy on promise, but light on actual playing experience.
Health is the Biggest Factor
Former general manager Sam Hinkie’s philosophy included foregoing immediate success to accumulate future assets a.k.a. The Process (referred to not so glowingly as “tanking”). Hinkie’s strategy brought Embiid, Simmons, and Jahlil Okafor to the City of Brotherly Love. Unfortunately, injuries have kept all the Sixers’ main players from being on the court together at the same time.
Embiid, the third overall pick in 2014, missed the first two years of his NBA career and did not make his professional debut until this past season. He showed promise, but only appeared in 31 games due to injury and management’s purposeful plan to not play him in any back-to-backs. Embiid has become the embodiment of Hinkie’s vision, so much so that he’s been nicknamed “The Process”.
Simmons, last year’s first overall pick, missed all of the 2016-2017 season with a broken foot. Because of this, Simmons and Fultz will become the first No. 1 overall picks who will be rookies and teammates at the same time.
“Where we were and where we are, and the pieces, the real people that you can actually touch, and the three people that we’re mostly talking about now in Embiid and Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. “The city has to feel fantastic. I know the organization does.”
The Sixers have gone 75-253 over the last four seasons. They bottomed out at a dismal 10-72 in 2015-16, just one game above the NBA’s mark of futility set by the Sixers in 1972-73. The Sixers made an 18-game improvement in 2016-17, but the selection of Fultz and the possibilities he brings is cause for excitement.
Fultz believes the Sixers can be a playoff team.
“I am serious when I say that,” Fultz said at his introductory press conference while sitting under the championship banners from 1955, 1967, and 1983 at the Sixers’ practice facility. “That is not just me talking because I am a player. I really think we can be a playoff team.”
Brown, as head coach, has to have a grounded perspective.
“The fact that our backcourt hasn’t played a second together, hasn’t played a second of NBA basketball together, one is 19, one is 20, is daunting,” Brown said. “But on the sadistic side, it is completely exciting to me. Imagine holding onto that and growing.”
Simmons and Embiid are expected to be ready for the start of training camp with no restrictions.
“Everybody knows A.I. was known for the crossover and they love him here and a chance to come here and (he) was the No. 1 pick is kind of crazy,” Fultz said. “Following behind him is going to be tough but I am looking forward to it.”
FORT WORTH, TX – NOVEMBER 30: Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) brings the ball up the court during the NCAA Basketball game between the Washington Huskies and TCU Horned Frogs on November 30, 2016, at Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, TX (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)