In the NBA, teams can’t afford to miss on a No. 1 overall pick. For the Philadelphia 76ers, Markelle Fultz’s potential is still very much a mystery. He fought through a shoulder injury his rookie season and needed to rebuild his shooting mechanics, and he did just enough to showcase flashes of brilliance in his brief rookie season.
However, no one really knows what role Fultz will play on a Sixers team that is expected to contend for the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference.
The team’s inability to acquire a star player over the summer–like LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard–and the recent injury to rookie Zhaire Smith, only furthers the need for a significant contribution from Fultz.
The versatile guard was a star at Washington, flashing great athleticism and a penchant for scoring. His shoulder injury and subsequent shooting mechanic problems robbed a promising rookie season. In fact, Fultz did not even take part in the Las Vegas Summer League, as the franchise opted for individual workouts to further enhance his shot.
Fultz was a solid shooter in college, and it should be expected that he’ll return to form at some point. Although when is not exactly clear. As a rookie, Fultz averaged 7.1 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 3.1 RPG while playing limited minutes.
The ability to play alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons should further Fultz’s development, making the transition somewhat easier. Fultz could theoretically start next to Simmons, who functions as the primary ballhandler. With J.J. Redick back in the fold, head coach Brett Brown could opt to utilize Fultz in a playmaking role off the bench.
Fultz still boasts star potential, though. The Sixers’ ability to unlock that potential will be key for a deep run in the East in 2018-19.
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