SALT LAKE CITY – It's no secret Markelle Fultz is the main attraction for the Sixers at the Utah Jazz Summer League. Just don't expect to see the No. 1 overall pick on the court for both remaining games in Utah this week.
The Sixers plan to rest Fultz for at least one game before heading out to Las Vegas. For now, he is scheduled to play against the Jazz on Wednesday night and then sit out against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday.
“Our thought process right now is that he will play tomorrow,” Sixers summer league coach Billy Lange said. “It is unlikely he would play all three games."
Fultz made his summer-league debut for the Sixers in an 89-88 loss to the Celtics on Monday. The rookie guard finished with a team-high 17 points on 6 of 16 shooting and also tallied three blocked shots.
Along with disrupting shots, Fultz also shifted into passing lanes and deflected balls. He felt like he made a strong statement on where his defensive abilities are at heading into his first NBA season.
“I showed people what I can do on the defensive end,” Fultz said. “I played hard. First time I played 5-on-5 in a long time. I did a good job of just going out there and competing."
Chasing down blocks, like he did against the Celtics, is second nature to Fultz. He has focused on honing that skill since he was in 10th grade. For him, it is a way to make other teams think about him even when he doesn't have the ball in his hands.
He wants to be known for his defending as much as his scoring. Blocking shots is a tool Fultz wants to use to keep opponents off balance.
“You don't see a lot of guards running after bigs and everybody to try to block a shot,” Fultz said. “So it's going to throw people off. It's going to make everybody think when they're driving to the basket. So I think it's very valuable.”
The Sixers love the aggressiveness they've seen from Fultz on both ends of the court thus far. They want to see him make strides in controlling pace and tempo throughout the game and also feel confident in directing older teammates.
Fultz's ability to emerge as a leader will be critical in getting the team's youthful talent to gel together into a cohesive winner this season. Lange said the young point guard has the natural tools to do it. He just needs time to refine them.
"You can't force it yet,” Lange said. “You just have to talk to him about it and let him be comfortable in his own skin. He's a willing learner. He's very humble. Our guys gravitate to him because they respect his work ethic and his humility. But he's got to get comfortable doing it.”
Korkmaz signs with Sixers
The Sixers just added another valuable shooter on the perimeter. Furkan Korkmaz signed a rookie contract with the team Tuesday after completing a buyout from his Turkish club Anadolu Efes (see story).
Korkmaz was originally selected with the 26th pick in the 2016 NBA draft. The 6-foot-8 shooting guard did not join the Sixers since he was still under contract with Anadolu Efes at the time and spent the entire 2016-17 season playing in Europe.
Korkmaz played in 12 games total for Anadolu Efes before being loaned to Banvit in December. He averaged 4.4 points in 12.1 minutes in 10 Turkish league games with the club. During his stint with Banvit, the 19-year-old averaged 10.4 points and shot 48.8 percent from three-point range in 10 BCL games. He also averaged 8.4 points and shot 34.4 percent from distance in 16 Turkish games with Banvit.
Trimble awaiting his turn
Melo Trimble faces a long road ahead to make an NBA roster. The former Maryland guard went undrafted in the NBA draft in June before agreeing to play with the Sixers in summer league. Trimble now finds himself on a team with a logjam in the backcourt.
The odds of getting noticed don't appear favorable after he recorded a DNP-CD against the Celtics on Monday night. Trimble was one of five players who didn't get off the bench for the Sixers.
“My time is going to come in another game and I just got to stay ready,” Trimble said.
While at Maryland, Trimble became just the fourth player in school history to record 1,600 points, 400 assists and 150 steals in his career. He averaged 16.8 points on 43.6 percent shooting during his final season and led the Terrapins to the NCAA Tournament during each of his three seasons.
Trimble's goal is to make an NBA roster and become a starter in the league. He accepts the fact his window to impress is limited and is ready to make the most of it when it happens.
“Last year, I would have probably been sad about it and want to leave,” Trimble said. “This year, I'm sticking with it. Being in my position, I'm undrafted. If I get on a team, I might not play a lot of minutes. I might not play at all. But whenever my number is called, I got to be ready.”