76ers

Markelle Fultz's message to Sixers fans: 'Trust the process'

Markelle Fultz's message to Sixers fans: 'Trust the process'

STONE HARBOR, N.J. -- The crowd chased after Markelle Fultz and swarmed around, people holding their phones high to capture a photo or video. The No. 1 pick looked around and knew exactly the message he wanted to relay to Sixers’ fans ahead of the upcoming season.

“Trust the process,” he said. “That’s all I’ve got to say.” 

Needless to say, the onlookers erupted in cheers. 

Fultz attracted throngs of fans every step he took Saturday at the Sixers Shore Tour in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. They sprinted across the field at the 82nd Street Recreation Center when he and Robert Covington arrived. Later, they followed closely behind asking for autographs, selfies and high fives when the pair of Sixers walked to an indoor basketball court for one-on-one games with kids. 

“It’s pretty crazy, really,” Fultz said. “This atmosphere is just a little taste of hopefully what the season’s going to be like.”

The Sixers will begin training camp in September. Fultz is more than a month removed from spraining his left ankle in summer league. He said he “definitely” will be ready for the start of camp.

“I’m great,” he said. “I’m 100 percent. I could go out and play right now.”

Fultz is poised to be a key player in the Sixers’ success. The point guard, who led all freshmen in scoring last season with 23.2 points per game while at the University of Washington, reiterated he is comfortable playing on or off the ball to complement Ben Simmons in the backcourt. He noted he is willing to take on the role assigned to him by head coach Brett Brown. 

“Whatever it takes to win,” Fultz said. 

The rookie has a clear vision of the Sixers’ objectives this season. He has had the chance to get to know some of his new teammates and can tell they share a similar mindset. 

“I think we’ve all got the same goal in mind: get back to the playoffs,” Fultz said. “That’s good to know everybody’s on the same page.”

Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

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USA Today Images

Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Ben Simmons had himself a historic first week in the NBA and as a result, his MVP odds have changed substantially.

Listed by Bovada on Oct. 10 at 80/1 to win MVP, Simmons is now at 33/1, tied with DeMarcus Cousins and ahead of Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard.

Simmons became the first player since Oscar Robertson to produce at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in each of his first three career games.

Teammate Joel Embiid had a less successful start to the year, averaging 14.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and missing all 10 three-point attempts.

And yet somehow, Embiid's MVP odds have changed from 40/1 to 25/1. He has the same MVP odds as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis.

Griffin, at 50/1, is a sneaky good bet for MVP. The Clippers are his team now with Chris Paul in Houston, and Griffin has added long-distance shooting to his game, making three triples in each game. Two games in, he's averaging 29.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. 

If he can stay healthy (a huge if) and lead the Clippers to 52-plus wins in a loaded Western Conference, you'd have to think Griffin would be looked at more favorably in terms of MVP odds than someone on a star-studded team like any of the Warriors or Rockets, if Paul returns from his knee injury within a month and affects James Harden's stats even slightly. 

Giannis Antetokounpo and LeBron James look like the two players most likely to win MVP, but 50/1 for Griffin is good value if you think this is the year he stays healthy. If he didn't have a history of injuries, his odds right now would be closer to those of John Wall (28/1) or Towns (25/1).

Sixers-Pistons thoughts: Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond takes center stage

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Sixers-Pistons thoughts: Joel Embiid vs. Andre Drummond takes center stage

Dust yourself off and try again.

That's all the Sixers (0-3) can do as they again go for their first win of the new season. They'll get a slight break this time when they face the Pistons (2-1) at new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit (7 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports app). It's the Sixers' first opponent in 2017-18 that didn't reach the playoffs a season ago.

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

• After resting for the second game of a back-to-back set in Saturday's 128-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors, Joel Embiid will return to the Sixers' starting lineup on Monday night.

Embiid is still finding his way offensively to start 2017-18. He is averaging 14.5 points through two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and he's missed all 10 of his three-point attempts.

Those outside shots should start to dwindle in the big man's first-ever meeting with Andre Drummond and the Pistons after Embiid made it clear that he wants more touches in the post.

• We'll see if Embiid's camping out in the paint can help the Sixers even out their foul disparity.

Through three games, the Sixers are ninth in personal fouls drawn (24.3). However, they have committed a league-high 28.0 fouls per game.

That has led to opponents attempting 35.7 and making 27.7 free throws per game against the Sixers, both NBA highs.

Officials definitely have tighter whistles when a new season begins as they want to drive home points of emphasis from offseason rule changes and discussions. Still, this is a problem the Sixers need to end quickly if they want to get in the win column.

• The Pistons have been strong on the offensive end so far, scoring over 100 points in each game.

While the entire team deserves credit with five players averaging in double figures, Tobias Harris is leading the pack with some impressive scoring marks.

Harris has put up 24.3 points per game on 55.8 percent shooting from the field and an insane 47.1 percent from beyond the arc.

While Embiid's matchup with Drummond will likely take top billing heading into this contest, the real heavyweight battle could end up being between Harris and defensive ace Robert Covington.

• The Sixers managed one win in three contests against the Pistons last season. The teams split the two matchups at the Palace of Auburn Hills, which has now been replaced by the $862.9 million Little Caesars Arena. The Sixers have the opportunity to become the NBA's first visiting team to notch a win in the new arena.

Richaun Holmes (wrist) is out for the Sixers.

Dwight Buycks (hip) and Reggie Bullock (suspension) are out for the Pistons.