Sixers Weren’t Wrong To Draft Fultz
I feel as though whenever Jayson Tatum plays, we have to be reminded that Bryan Colangelo and the 76ers passed on him in favor of Markelle Fultz in the 2017 draft. I can understand why, Tatum is a bonafide scorer at all three levels and is only getting better at 21 years old. Over his last 10 games, he’s averaged 30 points and 7 rebounds with no sign of slowing down. Hindsight is always 20/20, however, and it’s convenient for everyone to say that the Sixers should’ve taken Tatum over Fultz in real-time when the team is underperforming. In actuality, the Sixers weren’t wrong for moving up to grab Fultz.
Markelle coming out of Washington was the ideal fit for the Sixers. He could shoot at a high percentage, get to the rim at will and didn’t need to be ball-dominant to be effective. He averaged 23 points, 6 boards, and 6 assists a game in his lone season at college while displaying fluid athleticism and elite defensive potential. His skill set fit the team like a glove at the time alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Sure, there were questions about him being apart of a team that didn’t win many games but he was the consensus #1 pick across the board. He was the last piece that was needed to complete the “Process” and when Colangelo traded the #3 pick along with a future first to take him, Philadelphia celebrated. Just read the comments on the tweet below. Nobody foresaw Fultz forgetting everything he once knew about basketball.
Trade between Philly and Boston will be finalized on Monday, per source. Sides have agreed. Sixers will get first pick and take Fultz.
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) June 18, 2017
The notion that Danny Ainge knew something about Fultz that nobody else didn’t is blasphemous to me. The Celtics had a plethora of guards on the roster and Isaiah Thomas was coming off a career year averaging 29 points a game. Boston had no use for another guard and in retrospect, had minimal interest in drafting Fultz. It was widely known across the league that Boston was taking Jayson Tatum regardless. Knowing how much Fultz was coveted, Ainge was willing to trade the #1 pick to the Sixers while still being able to get their man in Tatum. If anything, we can all agree that Boston was clever to obtain an additional first-round pick in the process.
The Sixers were lacking a true back-up point guard to Ben Simmons this season, and with Simmons now out for the foreseeable future, that void is even more evident. Cue the “we should’ve kept Markelle” crowd. With every highlight play he makes in Orlando, a new person arrives to redundantly point out that we gave him up for two months of Jonathon Simmons. From my perspective, Fultz looks no different offensively than he did in Philadelphia. He’s averaging 12 points a game this season while shooting (still very awkwardly) just 26% from 3. He’s getting more usage on a fringe playoff team and that isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that the media continuously says we gave up on Fultz too soon and that couldn’t be any more deceptive.
Philadelphia supported him every step of the way, cheering every time he even stepped foot on the court. In totality, everything he was going through was taking a toll on him mentally. Did the Sixers handle Fultz in the greatest way possible? Probably not. Would it have been nice to have him currently in Ben’s absence? Sure, but Markelle was never going to thrive here. He didn’t fit the Sixers “contend-now” timetable and they couldn’t wait for Fultz to find his shot again. The salary he cleared was eventually used to make space for Josh Richardson and Al Horford (I know) and it was best for both parties to move on. He can take all the time he needs to redevelop his game in new scenery and maybe someday we’ll see the former #1 overall pick return to his true form.
Markelle Fultz left it all on the floor tonight ✊
10 ASTS pic.twitter.com/Rzeo0ccrWI
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 16, 2020