Sixers Roundtable: First Impressions on Markelle Fultz

Regardless of how you feel, Markelle Fultz is in a tough spot. He’s playing on a contending team that is expected to win now and in a basketball city that is starved for championships. He’s also playing for a coach that is willing to go through the growing pains of a 20 year old guard learning the ins and outs of the playbook and the grind of playing in the NBA. Looking even deeper, Sixers’ management gave up a significant asset (Sacramento Kings’ 2019 top-1 protected first round pick) in order to trade up for him in the 2016 NBA Draft. Needless to say, Markelle Fultz is a significant variable in the success of the Sixers this year. We are seven games into the season, and Fultz’s performance has come with mixed results. In this week’s roundtable discussion, we at Philly Front Office offer our first impressions of Markelle and assess if Fultz continues to be a member of the Sixers’ core.

What are your first impressions with Markelle’s performance through seven games? From what you’ve seen so far, is Fultz still a part of the big picture with the Sixers moving forward? If not, why?

Steve

Follow Steve on Twitter- @FanSince09

Markelle looked explosive in limited time last year and looks like a completely different, and worse, player so far. Beyond the general “deer in the headlight” body language, he looks like he’s absolutely lost. Is this because he doesn’t yet trust his shot? Maybe, but he’s not even trying to include himself in plays. Maybe his success last year was the benefit of starting in meaningless games with an injured Embiid and a resting Simmons, because it doesn’t look like he knows how to play with them. Can he still be a star? Sure, I am just doubting he can do that with the Sixers and under Brett Brown. I am rooting for him, I liked the trade to draft him, I just think it isn’t going to work out.

Cliff

Follow Cliff on Twitter- @cliffnotez_

My first impression of Markelle’s performance thus far is that he has the tools even now to be a very good player in the NBA. He has the crucial mid-range game ala DeMar Derozan, and when he has been able to run the offense, he has looked very much in control and aggressive. Markelle has shown a vast improvement with shooting the three, going from not shooting them at all to shooting and making them when he’s open this season. In fairness, he has not shot a lot, but it is still an improvement nonetheless. That simple fact alone shows that Markelle is still very much a part of the big picture moving forward; he just needs the ball, and Brett Brown needs to involve him in the offense more.

Through the first seven games, it seems as if when Fultz doesn’t have the ball, the play calls put him in the weak-side corner nowhere near the play. A lot of people say he should cut or move, but there is literally nowhere he can go without getting in the way of the play the way Brown sets it up. I don’t care who you are or what caliber player you are, if you are placed in the weak-side corner of a play and the ball doesn’t come your direction, it will be hard for you to get involved and make an impact. Finally, I think Markelle could still be a very big piece to this team; he just needs time to grow and needs to be placed in opportunities to succeed.

Matthew

Follow Matthew on Twitter- @PureBooyah

Fultz has all the tools to be a significant contributor to this team. Fultz needs to improve his on the ball defense and shot hesitation and continue to improve the consistency of his shooting stroke. The relationship between Fultz and the fans went from fan-and-player to family-and-family. Fultz began being treated by fans as if he was their child or their sibling. The fans went from wanting him to succeed to needing him to succeed. What would a family member do if his/her child or brother was struggling? They would help him with his shortcomings. Fultz may never reach the ceiling that Embiid or Simmons has, but his per 36 numbers so far are very encouraging. If he were to be dealt, I’d be sad, but I wouldn’t be devastated. Excited to see his continued growth.

Jason

Follow Jason on Twitter- @Jblevins46

Markelle Fultz plays a rhythm game. The “Hesi” is the most common word associated with Markelle since his first summer league game as a pro. He has never been a downhill, explosive first step player, but more of a rocker, slow/fast sort of crafty guard. I believe that many of his troubles have stemmed from adapting to the speed and anticipation of NBA level defenders.

From up close, I have seen undeniable, albeit incremental progress when it comes to the fluidity and quickness of his pull up jumpers. For many of us who were hoping for a switch to flip and Markelle to turn immediately back into the player we all saw at the University of Washington, his relatively slow progress has become a source of concern. But what we should keep in mind is that progress IS progress. What we haven’t seen is major setbacks in terms of hitches, and his propensity to get blocked is improving.

Defensively, he has a long way to go, but most 20 year old point guards have the same struggles. It is among the most difficult positions to adapt to defensively in all of sports. There is no need for panic. The season is long, and as long as the progress is steady, I expect to have a useful player come the postseason.

Shane

Follow Shane on Twitter- @guschiiggens

When I watch Markelle Fultz through these first several games of the young season, I don’t see the same player I saw at Washington and in the Summer League briefly a year ago. I do see glimpses of that player however, and lately, including Monday night against Atlanta, I saw the confidence from him that’s been sorely missed. His performance so far hasn’t been consistent, but the stretches where he’s willing to shoot and attack the basket show the promise of the player we expected when the 76ers drafted him. With Fultz, I don’t worry about his mechanics at all like others might. Rather, it’s the willingness (or lack thereof) to take certain shots and attack that worries me slightly. However, he’s expanded on that progressively which is what I expected. Is Fultz still a part of the big picture moving forward? Of course, it’d be foolish to give up on him so soon. We’ve seen what can happen when the shooters on the team aren’t hitting. The offense becomes stagnant, and they need someone who can get a bucket, whether through pull up jumpers or attacking the hoop. Markelle can be that, and if he continues to unfold and expand the types of shots he takes on the court, I think he’ll be just fine.

Eric

Follow Eric on Twitter- @TheEMart

Despite enduring what may have been the weirdest story in sports last year, Markelle Fultz has looked like a typical highly-drafted rookie so far this season. He has shown some promise and even flashes of brilliance at times, but doesn’t seem fully comfortable with how and where to assert himself yet. He still has All-Star potential on both ends of the floor, but his timeline for reaching that potential might be longer than Sixers fans or management are willing to tolerate. This impatience is exacerbated by two other factors:

  1. Jason Tatum’s rising star in Boston, the team that the Sixers traded with to acquire the pick that became Fultz.
  2. A “win-now” mentality sweeping over the city in light of last year’s playoffs run, Simmons’ affordable contract, Embiid’s rapid development, and possibly even the Eagles’ Super Bowl run.

To that end, Fultz should be played as much as possible before the trade deadline in an effort to get as much information on what his ceiling is prior to the next big picture decision point for the team. If the Sixers can project by then when – or if – Fultz can be the fabled “Third Star,” they’ll have a much more clear idea of what to do with him. Because I can see a world where he is traded, Fultz is not part of the Sixers’ core.

Jerry

Follow Jerry on Twitter- @JTHREEEE

Markelle is still in his head. He’s beginning to loosen up, but he doesn’t have the confidence that Ben Simmons shows when he breaks the confines of the offense and attacks the defense on his own. He’s showing more and more glimpses of his previous self that we’ve all seen in his Washington Huskies mixtapes. He’s only going to get better as the year progresses.
 Sixers fans were patient for so many years! Why can’t they wait for Fultz to develop? There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s still a part of the future of this team. I understand that he’ll be compared to Tatum for eternity because of the trade that brought him to Philly, but it’s not fair to Markelle. Would it have been nice to have Tatum come in and immediately produce? Of course. Would having Tatum mean that we were a threat to beat the Warriors? No. So why can’t we wait? We’re not ready to compete for the title this year, so why can’t we let him continue to develop and grow as a player and person? Keep trusting the process.

Fultz (Through 6 games this year, 20 y/o)        25.3 mpg, 8.8 points, 3.5 rebs, 3.8 assists

James Harden (Rookie Year, 20 y/o)                  22.9 mpg, 9.9 points, 3.2 rebs, 1.8 assists

Tony Parker    (Rookie Year, 19 y/o)                   29.4 mpg, 9.2 points, 2.6 rebs, 4.3 assists

Mike

Follow Mike on Twitter- @MHC_76

Through seven games, I have been encouraged by Markelle Fultz’ play. After struggling in his first game in Boston, Markelle has gotten more comfortable every game. Last night against Atlanta was the most encouraging performance yet, as Fultz hit a 3 and also took two other threes with zero hesitation. It’s not going to happen overnight. This is something that could take anywhere from a month to a few years. But the results have been encouraging thus far.

I still view Markelle as a big part of the Sixers’ future, one way or the other. He could become the player we all hope he does and complete this Sixers roster. It’s also possible that Fultz becomes a trade piece for a really good player later on. That still makes him a big part of the Sixers’ future.

Vin

Follow Vin on Twitter- @vinfosh

Overall, I’m happy with how he is playing. It’s only 20 games into his career. With expectations in mind, I would grade him as a B- on the offensive side and a C- on the defensive side thus far. He is 3 for 6 from three and 4 for 6 from the FT line (at the time I write this), and he is showing more willingness to shoot pull up jumpers with each passing game. He has also shown the ability to attack the rim effectively. These are all things I am very happy with. He has also had a few successful possessions with Joel in P&R sets, which is very encouraging. I’d like to see more of this. Defensively, Markelle has to show more awareness and also be more gritty/physical. He has been beaten off the dribble and been caught watching the ball on backdoor cuts more often than I’d like. I think he is a little out of shape (game-shape), so I expect him to improve as his conditioning improves throughout the year.

I’m still not sure I like his long term fit, but it really is too early to tell. His value to the Sixers (both as an asset and as a key part of the roster) is locked up in his ability to stay on the court. I remain optimistic.

Jack

Follow Jack on Twitter- @jlevy34

I have been somewhat impressed with Markelle Fultz this season, but I’m sure others are higher on him than me. Obviously, his physical attributes are outstanding, but the thing that worries me most about him is the mental part. His threes don’t look great, but it is good that he is taking them. I do think he will improve and become a solid starter for the future Sixers. I envision his highest ceiling being DeMar DeRozan.

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter- @tom_ds13

Fultz has played generally within my expectations this year. I feel like we’ve been spoiled the last few years with rookies playing significant roles for playoff teams, but more often than not, young point guards are spotty and look uncomfortable in their early careers. I’ve been impressed with some of the flashes of brilliance that we’ve seen and am feeling positive with the upward trajectory we’ve seen since the shaky start against Boston. I still think he looks far more comfortable as the primary ball handler when the offense runs through him and don’t really see him being too much of a true off the ball fit.

My aspirations about his fit with this team are a little bit more muddled, but ultimately they live and die with his 3 point shot. Simmons’ and Embiid’s lives both become significantly easier playing alongside a player who forces defenses to defend him on the perimeter, period. He will never get the chance to be a true ball dominant point guard with the Sixers, but the best case scenario for his fit is more of the LeBron/Kyrie relationship with Simmons and staggering their minutes to get him some burn alone as the guy.

Deibler

Follow me on Twitter- @mrcrockpot

It’s a work in progress, which will come via baby steps this year. But you cannot deny that he is making progress with his shot and confidence. We’re seven games into the season, and Fultz has taken 40 shots (5.7 per game) from beyond 10 feet and 11 shots from beyond the arc. That is seven more shots from beyond 10 feet than he had in 14 games last season (2.3 per game). Markelle is taking 2.5 field goal attempts per game this season with a higher true shooting percentage (45.1% to 41.6%). In fact, 54.9% of his shots this season have been beyond 10 feet. That is significantly higher than 27.1% from last season.

There was much concern regarding whether or not Markelle would “take the shot,” and he has silenced those critics. There is no doubt that Ben and Markelle have a lot to figure out, which may take some time. I still believe Markelle will continue to improve, and the numbers support it. Keep shooting, Markelle, we believe in you.

According to the graph, you can see that the majority of contributors at Philly Front Office continue to believe that Markelle Fultz is a vital part of the Sixers’ core moving forward. The graph indicates that 55% of Philly Front Office responders believe Markelle will continue to be a major part of the Sixers moving forward. The graph also indicates that 36% are in wait-and-see mode, and 9% do not believe Markelle will ever fit with Ben Simmons. One thing is for sure, only time will tell.

Thank you for reading PFO’s first Sixers roundtable. As always, trust the process, baby!