CAMDEN, N.J. — It’s only fitting on the day Elton Brand is announced as the Sixers’ new GM that we get our first glimpse of Markelle Fultz’s rebuilt jumper.
Fultz released videos of him draining a bunch of threes as part of an interview with Isaiah Thomas for The Players' Tribune Thursday morning. The shots were taken by himself in a gym and were strictly of the catch-and-shoot variety, but an encouraging sign nonetheless.
Brand has a connection to Fultz. Both players were selected No. 1 overall, so Brand has a unique perspective in being able to relate to Fultz. After having one of the oddest rookie seasons in which he played just 14 games and had the most scrutinized jumper maybe in NBA history — or maybe Ben Simmons does? — Fultz appears healthy and ready to contribute.
“We spoke as No. 1 pick to No. 1 pick,” Brand said during his introductory press conference at the team’s practice facility Thursday. “My stance was always it’s not about this practice or this game, it’s the big picture.
“And I’ve been so encouraged about what I’ve seen. A special young man. I know why he was the No. 1 pick. He’s going to do great. I’ve been very encouraged by what I’ve seen. When I got the job [Wednesday] it was 8:00 p.m., stayed until 10 p.m., who was here? This was after practice. Before practice today, who’s here? He’s been in the gym working tirelessly to develop and become a great player.”
There’s going to be a ton on Fultz’s shoulder(s) this season. The Sixers moved up from the No. 3 to No. 1 pick to acquire the rights to draft him. They made that pick in hopes that he’d be a perfect fit to develop alongside Joel Embiid and Simmons.
It obviously didn’t work out that way during his rookie season. Now he’s healthy after having to watch most of last season while his team had its best record since 2001. Everyone saw that this team needed something during the loss to the Boston Celtics last season. They needed a player that can create shots for himself and others.
The goal for Brand and the Sixers is to win an NBA championship — he made that abundantly clear. Managing partner Josh Harris also made it clear that he believes hiring Brand for this post gives the team the best chance to land star talent in the future.
But for the immediate future, Brand wants to get the most out of the players that are in-house.
“Immediate goals are to develop this young core,” Brand said. “It was Joel’s first time in the playoffs. It was Ben’s first time in the playoffs. We talk about adding a third superstar — we may have that third superstar in this room right now. And fourth — we have that much talent. They’re young but we have that much talent.”