The Sixers drafted Markelle Fultz at No. 1 with the vision of pairing him with Ben Simmons. That plan was sidelined by Fultz’s long-term shoulder injury.
Now that Fultz is back, the Sixers have the opportunity to experiment with the one-two backcourt combination before the playoffs.
Fultz and Simmons shared the floor Tuesday for 3½ minutes during the Sixers’ 121-95 over the Nets (see observations).
“It felt great,” Fultz said. “He’s a great player, obviously a point guard, he can do multiple things, pass the ball well and it felt good to get a little taste out there with him.”
Brett Brown was pleased with the pace and ball movement when they played together. During their time on the court, Fultz scored four points and both players dished an assist.
“I do like what I saw,” Brown said. “I thought they did ‘simple’ well.”
The guards fed off each other. Simmons said Fultz’s slashing and rebounding abilities are a bonus for him.
“The way he sees the floor, I think it's similar to my court vision, which is a lot of fun to play with,” Simmons said. “Having somebody who can run the floor and get to the rim and make plays, it makes it a lot easier for me.”
Simmons recorded his 36th double-double with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six assists (see highlights). Fultz posted 10 points, two rebounds and two dimes in 20 minutes.
“I think it’s going to be hard to guard that, two guys that can run the floor, push the ball up, and we play really well off each other,” Fultz said. “You’ve got two guys that are going to create and look for other guys and also that can get their own.”
There is a caveat to this pairing. Brown said he is “acutely aware” of the need to surround both Fultz and Simmons with shooters. If he feels like it is not beneficial to the team and could hinder winning, it’s not going to continue while the team fights for home-court advantage.
“I’m not in the mood to go bananas experimenting on stuff,” Brown said before the game. “And if it contradicts or doesn’t feel right, it’s too risky, the game is not in a position that makes me feel comfortable, I’m not doing it.”