76ers

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Markelle Fultz

Sixers 2017-18 player evaluation: Markelle Fultz

Markelle Fultz

Position: Guard

Status for 2018-19: Second year of rookie contract for $8,339,880

Fultz in 2017-18
It’s not hyperbole to say Fultz had one of the most bizarre rookie seasons in NBA history. Let’s quickly run through the entire saga.

First, there was the mysteriously broken shot, the scapular imbalance in his right shoulder, the speculation about whether the injury led to the new shooting form or vice versa, and of course all the eyes on the brief videos of Fultz at practice, meticulously analyzing his jumper.

Then there was the surprise return on Mar. 26 against the Nuggets after missing the past 68 games, flashes of the handles and athleticism during the final 10 games of the regular season that compelled the Sixers to pick him No. 1, a chance to be part of the playoff rotation, and finally a return to the bench after three playoff games.

Got all that?

By the way, Fultz averaged 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 14 regular-season games and posted 1.7 points, 1.7 assists and 1.0 rebound per game in his three postseason contests. Those stats obviously don’t tell his story.

Plenty of NBA players have had their rookie seasons derailed by injury, demonstrated flawed shooting mechanics, faced constant scrutiny from fans and media, and given glimpses of their potential. Until Fultz, nobody had combined all those ingredients into a single, surreal season.

Signature game
Fultz made history in the season finale on Apr. 12, a 130-95 win over the Bucks. With 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, he became, at 19 years and 317 days old, the youngest player in the NBA to ever record a triple-double.

After securing the accomplishment late with his 10th rebound, Fultz was immediately mobbed by his teammates and then doused with a unique cocktail of strawberry milk, chocolate milk and water afterwards in the locker room celebration.

That night, you saw Fultz’s immense potential. You also felt the human side of his odyssey and saw how much joy his teammates took from his achievement.

Looking ahead to 2018-19
Until Fultz looks comfortable with his jumper, there’s going to be plenty of scrutiny on his shot. He shot 19 for 75 (25.3 percent) from three feet and out and made only 2 of 8 attempts from further than 15 feet.

Fultz and the team haven’t decided yet whether he’ll play in summer league, but that’s a possibility. It could be a good chance for Fultz to get some more time on the court and continue regaining his confidence, and his jumper as well.

While Fultz’s name will probably be tossed around by outsiders as a possible trade piece, it doesn’t seem like potential trade partners would place a very high value on a player with 14 games of NBA experience and a suspect shot. It also would be a huge surprise to see the Sixers give up on their No. 1 pick and a player with Fultz's natural ability after one season. They'll almost certainly give him ample opportunity to show why they took him No. 1. 

On Fultz
“I’ve been going through stuff like this my whole life really, going against the odds and a whole bunch of outside noise. I don’t really look to it. I’m with my team, I’m with family, and that’s all I really care about. All the other stuff doesn’t really matter to me on what other people think or what other people have to say. I’m just worried about how my team’s doing, how my coaches and teammates look at me, and how I look at myself.”

- Fultz on dealing with outside noise at his end-of-season press conference on May 10 

Sixers 118, Hornets 114: JJ Redick stars as Sixers escape with win

Sixers 118, Hornets 114: JJ Redick stars as Sixers escape with win

The Sixers beat the Hornets Tuesday night in Charlotte, 118-114, extending their season-high winning streak to five games.

It wasn't as simple as it sounds. Without Joel Embiid (rest), JJ Redick and Ben Simmons starred, while Jimmy Butler and James Ennis made clutch shots down the stretch to lift the Sixers to a wild victory in a game that had 22 lead changes.

Jeremy Lamb missed an open shot at the rim that would've tied the game and possibly set up for a third consecutive overtime game between the Sixers and Hornets. 

Heading into Wednesday's matchup vs. the Celtics, the Sixers are 46-25, two games up on the Pacers for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Indiana plays the Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET.

• Redick picked up where he left off Sunday (19 points on 7 for 10 shooting) by making his first three field goals, including the opening points of the game on a Redick special — an improbable three-pointer from the left wing that was late in the shot clock, off-balance and very tightly contested. 

A three from the right corner that didn’t disturb any part of the rim gave him 21 points in the first 17 minutes. 

Redick passed Robert Covington for the second-most three-pointers made in a season in franchise history.

Kyle Korver has the record with 226 in the 2004-05 season.

Though Redick cooled off in the second half, he did a little bit of everything Tuesday night. In addition to 27 points, he grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds, dished out eight assists, and even took a key charge in the fourth quarter. 

• Sixers fans already have two very good memories of Jimmy Butler in Spectrum Center. After nailing a game-winner in overtime on Nov. 17, Butler (23 points on 8 for 19 shooting) hit a clutch three-pointer from the left corner to give the Sixers the lead with 1:27 to go. 

• The Sixers’ bench badly needed someone to provide a little offense. James Ennis did that and much more. He finished with 14 points on 6 for 9 shooting and nailed two massive threes in the fourth quarter. 

Talk about seizing a role on a team and not letting go — well done, James Ennis. 

• In his last five games, Ben Simmons has just seven turnovers. It’s a nice stat on the surface, but what’s perhaps most encouraging for Simmons is that he hasn’t seriously sacrificed his exceptional open-court skills to take better care of the ball. 

Simmons had a pair of dunks in the first quarter off very convincing dribble handoff fakes.

Though it’s certainly excusable for a player who’s only missed one game this season, it looked like Simmons took off a couple of possessions defensively, allowing his man to beat him on the initial move and not making much of an effort to recover. 

He posted 28 points on an incredible 11 of 12 from the floor, with eight rebounds and five assists.

• Amir Johnson started in Embiid’s place, while Boban Marjanovic came off the bench. The duo combined for four points and four rebounds in 27 minutes. 

Marjanovic didn’t have a good first half. He got beat for a few rebounds and didn't attempt a shot in 10 minutes. If the Sixers are going to try to steal minutes from Marjanovic against centers with some agility who can knock down threes, he needs to win the matchup offensively and on the boards. While you don’t want to force feed him the ball, the reality is Marjanovic needs to score vs. smaller centers like Frank Kaminsky to offset his defensive weaknesses.

Jonah Bolden took Marjanovic’s minutes in the second half, his first action since March 10 vs. Indiana. Though the rookie was understandably not his sharpest and was called for four fouls in his 11 minutes, he’s far better equipped than Marjanovic to guard stretch fives and pick up guards on switches.

Finally, Brett Brown used Simmons as his small-ball center to wrap up the game.

With 11 games to go, who Brown turns to at backup center against Boston should give us a better idea of exactly how willing he is to ride with Marjanovic, and how much trust he has in Bolden.

• After giving up a career-high 60 points to Kemba Walker in November, the Sixers had to be relieved when the Hornets’ star picked up his third foul in the first quarter and took a seat on the bench. 

But the Sixers couldn’t avoid Walker forever. He scored 13 of the Hornets’ 30 points in the third quarter, vaulting Charlotte into the lead. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

Sixers at Hornets: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

usa_kemba_walker_sixers_hornets.jpg
USA Today Images

Sixers at Hornets: 3 storylines to watch and how to stream the game

Following one of their biggest wins of the year over Milwaukee, the Sixers (45-25) are back in Charlotte (31-38) for their final matchup against the Hornets this season. Joel Embiid (load management) is out for tonight’s game. Here are three storylines to watch:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Spectrum Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC MyTeams app

The closer

Despite Kemba Walker dropping 60 in their last matchup, Jimmy Butler was the one who got the last laugh, coming up with a huge block and the overtime game-winner. Butler is a closer, and his presence in fourth quarters has been consistent since the Sixers traded for him back in November. We saw it again on Sunday when Butler was vital in helping withstand a Bucks late run in the game, knocking down 4 of his 8 field goals in the final six minutes. Butler said on Monday he thinks the Sixers are a good enough team to put this Charlotte squad away early. But, if not ... expect Butler to do his thing late.

Kemba Walker

Speaking of Walker, he is coming off arguably his worst game of the year, finishing with just 10 points (4 of 16 shooting) in the Hornets' 93-75 loss to Miami on Sunday. But Walker is averaging 40.2 points against the Sixers through three games this season.

Playoff inching closer

That loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday was a big one for Charlotte. The Heat now own the tiebreaker, and the Hornets are essentially three games behind Miami for the eight-seed. With 13 games left, Charlotte knows its playoff hopes are on the line. As for the Sixers, who sit third in the East, they are well aware of how locking up that three-seed could have a serious impact on how deep they’re able to make a run in the playoffs. Plenty on the line for both teams tonight.

More on the Sixers