June 21, 2017, 6:31 am
All those Sixers projections, guesses and rumors about what direction they’ll go with the No. 3 pick are now officially useless. In the NBA nothing is a given, except maybe the Spurs being a 50-win team.
As everyone knows the Sixers made huge news by trading up two spots and locked themselves into the top overall pick. This assumedly means the Sixers want Washington’s Markelle Fultz and think he is substantially better than what they would be left with at pick No. 3.
They paid a big price for the small rise in this year’s draft. Philadelphia has given up the Lakers’ pick next year contingent on that it lands between picks two through five. This steep price paid by Philly is especially out of character for a team that has been hoarding picks the past five years.
This is a clear reminder Sam Hinkie is not the general manager anymore. Fultz marks the beginning of stage II of “The Process.” Next season the Sixers will trot out the last two number one picks and a handful of other lottery picks and actually try to win games. All of their premier players are similar in age and can grow into something special.
Sixer fans will now begin their deep dive into figuring out who this guy is, and being 3,000 miles away on a losing college team most never watched him play at all. What they will find is Fultz’s maturity on the court is striking — it is a rarity to see such a polished freshman point guard.
He has great body control and decision making. Fultz doesn’t have the vision of Lonzo Ball or the speed of De’Aaron Fox but he is still the consensus number one pick because of his complete game. He had the best statistics with the least amount of support, though detractors would point out the lack of wins and tournament berth as major problems for a No. 1 pick.
Much has been said about that but Washington coach Lorenzo Romar did run a large amount of NBA sets against man defense. This gives GMs a better look at how Fultz may run an NBA offense. He reads the pick-and-roll defense well, he is able to split the defense when they trap and he is able to finish with either hand at the basket.
Fultz also showed NBA range as he shot 41 percent from deep. He is also a very willing distributor, continually showing the ability to hit the roller or skip a pass to the corner during the team’s primary high pick-and-roll offense.
Plugging him into the Sixers’ lineup would appear to be a seamless fit; he fills a need at point and his ability to play off the ball makes him a good fit next to Ben Simmons. Fultz is about to play with exponentially more talent than he ever did in college, and while some players become less effective with less touches, his skill set will allow him to magnify his strengths such as his ability to shoot off screens or being able to flash into a less clogged paint.
Giving Fultz the prospective pick and roll partner of Joel Embiid will also be a great fit, which is nice because last year’s lack of playmakers had the Sixers near the bottom in pick-and-roll frequency.
The Sixers will also welcome Fultz’s three-point shooting ability, the team averaged under 34 percent from long range last year which ranked them 25th in the league.
The only question is did they pay too much? Fultz doesn’t play great defense and there is some risk that he had a great run in a small sample size in college.
They gave away a lottery pick (in 2018 or 2019, dependent on where their Lakers pick lands in 2018) to Boston to move up two slots in this year’s draft. In a way-too-early prediction, 2018 is supposed to be another strong draft with many strong big-man prospects ready to enter the NBA.
If Philadelphia makes the leap up the standings they are expecting in the coming years they will be seeing plenty of the Celtics and their lottery pics including the pick they traded to them this week. One thing is certain, Bryan Colangelo just hit the go button on Sam Hinkie’s vision and now the expectations are officially in play.