Markelle Fultz

Enjoy Joel Embiid's offseason trash talk during 1-on-1 with Jayson Tatum

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Pure Sweat Basketball

Enjoy Joel Embiid's offseason trash talk during 1-on-1 with Jayson Tatum

Will Drew Hanlen be able to fix Markelle Fultz's shot? That remains to be seen. But he's certainly good at making people believe he can.

Not only is he building confidence in Fultz, he's also not afraid to come out and tell fans to get excited about it. 

As a quick refresher, Hanlen has been working with Fultz this summer out in Los Angeles and spoke about that experience back in June.

It's not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he'll be back rolling and he'll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I do give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him that I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.

And then Monday while at summer league in Las Vegas, Brett Brown spoke about his confidence in Fultz. From Sports Illustrated:

"I have tremendous optimism and confidence that he’s going to have a hell of a year next year,” Brown told a small media contingent within the Thomas & Mack Center here at NBA Summer League on Monday. “I believe that completely, and I’m just really excited to see him with us and to bring him back into our program on a full-time basis."

Which brings us to Tuesday when Hanlen continued his impressive self promotion by sharing footage of Fultz putting in work in a 10-plus minute YouTube video curiously named "Unseen Hours." (You can see them below)

But the footage of Fultz is mostly a big tease. You don't really get a good glimpse of his mechanics. There's much more of him working on his handle.

The real gold in the video is footage of Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum going at it 1-on-1. Embiid is a beast! But Tatum is admittedly amazing as well. What a battle those two have.

"My ball," Embiid says, cause he just won or something. To which Tatum responds in kind, "I beat you in the playoffs."

Touché.

Embiid ends up on the ground too much, per usual, but has fantastic lines like, "That was some MJ sh!t!" after a sweet finish.

"You think you can guard me!?!"

Of course JoJo believes he's the G.O.A.T. and very much enjoys telling people as much.

Enjoy the battle below. It starts around the three-minute mark.

Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons reportedly off limits in Kawhi Leonard trade talks

Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons reportedly off limits in Kawhi Leonard trade talks

The Sixers still believe in Markelle Fultz.

They've never publicly wavered in their support of last year's No. 1 overall pick, even throughout the mysterious saga involving his right shoulder injury and broken jump shot. And with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Sunday that Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are off limits in trade talks for Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, it sounds like they're keeping their faith in Fultz.

Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer reported Thursday that the Sixers were batting around a combination of Dario Saric, Robert Covington and the Heat's unprotected 2021 first-round pick (see story). Fultz was conspicuously absent from that trade package, and he's apparently still not someone the Sixers are willing to part with.

There are compelling arguments to be made for making Fultz off limits, and for including him in trade discussions. On one hand, if Fultz would be the piece that seals a deal for Leonard, it would be tempting to include him. His future, especially his jumper, is still a major question mark, and he could help the Sixers land a known star (when healthy) in Leonard.

On the other hand, Fultz was the No. 1 pick for a reason, and he could still end up turning into a star. He's just 20 years old and he did show flashes, albeit very brief ones, of his handles, athleticism and explosiveness last season. If his offseason work with trainer Drew Hanlen helps him rediscover his shot, he could make a lot of the people who have written him off look pretty foolish.

It's also worth noting that Fultz's value might not be the highest in trade discussions given that the Spurs would be banking on the potential of someone who has only played 14 regular-season games.

As for Embiid and Simmons, it's obvious why they would be excluded from any trade. Those two are the kind of special talents you just can't afford to give up easily.

Saric and Covington are both valuable players for the Sixers, but it makes plenty of sense to include them in trade packages. While Saric's "glue-guy" qualities and improved long-range jumper are integral to the Sixers, he's never going to be a star. He's the kind of guy you unfortunately need to part with if you want someone like Leonard. Covington, though much-maligned, is a first team All-Defensive player and capable three-point shooter. However, Leonard is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year. The Sixers likely wouldn't have much of a problem replacing Covington.

Especially given ESPN's Ian Begley's report Sunday that "there are several people with Philadelphia who feel confident that Leonard would strongly consider re-signing there next summer if they traded for him," it makes sense for the Sixers to pursue Leonard aggressively.

It appears that they're trying to do just that while still prioritizing their trust in Fultz.

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Paul George re-signing with Thunder has to give Sixers hope for a potential Kawhi Leonard trade

Paul George re-signing with Thunder has to give Sixers hope for a potential Kawhi Leonard trade

Saturday was a night of celebration for Paul George and not just because he attended an event thrown by Russell Westbrook described as a “summer hype house party.”

George reportedly agreed to a four-year, $137 million contract to remain with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The five-time All-Star announced he was staying in OKC on stage during the party with Westbrook by his side.

While Brett Brown likely didn’t receive an invite, that doesn’t mean the Sixers’ head coach and interim general manager wasn’t also in a celebratory mood.

Sure, the Sixers missed out on one of their superstar targets in free agency, but they may have gained something even greater: hope.

Per ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Sixers are “absolutely still kicking around Kawhi (Leonard) possibilities.” While Lowe was unsure whether the Sixers would increase their initial reported offers, his colleague Adrian Wojnarowski later said on television that so far the team has kept Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons out of any trade talks.

The Sixers are certainly right to be cautious with the core of their team, but it’s going to cost them if they want a player of Leonard’s caliber.

Look no further than George. A year ago when he was shipped from Indiana to Oklahoma City, the Thunder had to part with emerging talents Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Fast-forward a year, Oladipo was just named the league’s Most Improved Player and Sabonis is one of the game’s best young reserves.

As hard as it was, the Thunder said goodbye to that level of talent to acquire another stratosphere of player in George. Despite the Palmdale, California, longstanding desire to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, OKC rolled the dice on a year of playing with Westbrook and being immersed in the Thunder culture to seal George’s decision to stay as a free agent.

It worked, and now the Sixers are eyeing the same storybook scenario with Leonard, who can opt out of his current deal after next season.

Leonard, who hails from Los Angeles, has made it clear behind the scenes that his relationship with the Spurs reached a breaking point and he would like a trade, preferably to the Lakers. San Antonio appears in no rush to ship away the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and even less of a hurry to send him to the Western Conference foe Lakers.

Between players and draft picks, the Sixers would appear to have the pieces to get a Leonard swap finished. Then Brown would bank on his relationship with the swingman, the chance to play with some of the NBA’s best talent and a full year in a budding Sixers culture to sway Leonard into sticking around long term.

Sound familiar?

It came to fruition with George, and the Sixers can only hope their year-long sales pitch would be good enough to get it done with Leonard.

Who knows, this time next year the Sixers could be throwing a “summer hype house party” of their own to celebrate. But the organization would be happy if the quiet superstar simply signed on the dotted line.

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