What the process holds for Markelle Fultz
July 7, 2017, Markelle Fultz signed his rookie contract, which would be the start of his rookie season and career. The rookie put on a clinic during the NBA Summer League and proved that the 76ers made the right decision in drafting him number one overall. However, the 19-year-old guard may have suffered a shoulder injury after the Summer League ended.
Awful start to a rookie season
In the middle of a Sixers preseason scrimmage on September 27, 2017, Fultz earned a trip to the free throw line. While shooting his first free throw it was clear that his shooting motion changed for the worst. The former Washington Huskie would go into the season denying the fact that he was playing with an injured shoulder. October 2, Fultz would confirm to the world that his jump shot was indeed broken. For a few days, NBA analyst, critics, commentators and writers roasted the 2017 first round pick.
Days later Fultz partially admitted that he had been dealing with shoulder soreness. The 6-foot-4 guard made his season debut October 19th and played subpar. After playing against the Detroit Pistons on October 23, Sixers management decided to shut their 2017 number one overall pick down. Fultz, returned to the 76ers lineup March 26, 2018, against the Denver Nuggets where he netted 10 points, dished 8 assists, and grabbed 4 rebounds, in a 123-104 76ers win. The Maryland native would play the remaining games of the season. Yet, the playoffs presented a different story.
Philadelphia Head Coach Brett Brown opted not to play the former Huskie in the postseason minus Game 1 against the Miami Heat. After being eliminated from the playoffs, Sixers management resigned T.J. McConnell and stated that they will pursue LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard or Paul George this summer. Now that the playoffs are over what is next for Fultz? Should the Sixers hold on to the rookie since he is signed with the team until the summer of 2022?
Drafted with a purpose>rookie season
The 76ers drafted the young guard to play off the ball as a combo guard. Since Philadelphia drafted Ben Simmons in 2016, the coaching staff committed to having him play point guard. Simmons has done a great job of facilitating, pushing the tempo and leading the team. On the other hand, Fultz was drafted to space the floor, create his own shot, play off Simmons and catch and shoot. As of now, it is not clear whether or not the right-handed guard can fix his shooting form.
If the rookie cannot fix his form it will hurt the Sixers down the road. Simmons and Joel Embiid both take up post space. Without consistent shooters opposing defenses will simply clog the paint. Fultz does a great job of handling the ball and slashing to the rim but he has to be able to knock down the open jumper. Philadelphia may have to consider moving on from the rookie if he doesn’t fix his form. (He will fix it)
— BOUFF DADDY (@jaymiller_24) January 12, 2018
Continue to trust the process
Despite an injury-riddled year, the former Huskie finished his rookie season. What should Sixers General Manager Bryan Colangelo do moving forward? Managment decided to resign McConnell back due to his fearless approach and production in the playoffs. Make no mistake the 26-year-old is not better than Fultz when healthy. But the fact that Brown decided to go with McConnell instead of last years number one overall pick says a lot. Everyone deserves a second chance so the 76ers should definitely stand by Fultz.
Towards the end of the regular season, the guard brought the team confidence, defense, and energy. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 7.1 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds while only playing 14 games. Now the numbers don’t scream first round draft pick but for 14 games that is enough to take a second look.
Keep the young core together
Philadelphia will have Fultz under contract until 2022, there is no point to rush the process. This summer the coaching and training staff need to work together in order to provide the rookie with the best shooting coach to help him recreate his form. If Philly can work with their 2017 first round draft pick the Sky’s the limit. The city of Brotherly Love wants the team to sign King James in the summer. However, the team is young and will develop into a contender and signing James isn’t necessary if you have Fultz, Simmons, and Embiid at the core. Also, Colangelo doesn’t have to sign anyone to another max deal any time soon. (Save the money)
The 76ers averaged 109.8 points, 47.4 rebounds, 27.1 assists this season. Over the last few years, the competition in the Eastern Conference has diminished. Just a quick reminder the Atlantic Division team got to the second round of the playoffs. Why not try again with the same group? Maybe a second year in the Summer League will benefit Fultz.
Moore in a Minute video: If not playing in summer league increases chances Markelle Fultz is ready for start of 2018-19 #NBA season, it should be seriously considered, plus #Eagles and #Phillies videos: https://t.co/aJ6D9VSRdn pic.twitter.com/v5MKwQAVEM
— Tom Moore (@TomMoorePhilly) May 25, 2018
What are some of the takeaways on Fultz rookie season?
All stats used in this article are from stats.nba.com.