In the final move of “the process,” the Philadelphia 76ers moved up from the No. 3 overall pick
in the 2017 NBA to No. 1 to select freshman point guard Markelle Fultz out of Washington. The Maryland native is supposed to be the final piece of Philly’s puzzle to go with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
In 2013, Philly had endured years as an above average team in the Eastern Conference that would make the playoffs, but was never a title threat. In order to get past these years of mediocrity the front office led by Sam Hinkie exploded the team. Over the next few seasons, Hinkie would trade any decent player the team had for draft picks and assets. This led to the Sixers fielding a subpar team that would consistently finish among the worst in the league, but would land high draft picks.
Simmons, Embiid and Nerlens Noel (acquired by trade on draft night) would all go on to miss their respective rookie seasons due to injuries. Embiid is still battling injuries, while Simmons has looked good so far this season.
Fultz seems to be following the trend of his predecessors and is struggling with an injury at the start of his rookie campaign. Unlike those before him who were not featured at all during the regular season their respective first years, Fultz has played this year.
This may not be a good thing as the rookie has struggled and his shot is noticeably awkward and different from his shot in college. This has been attributed to a shoulder injury that has been nagging him. Fultz is not expected to miss the whole season, but if he was to be ruled out for the year, it would not be the worst thing.
The Sixers made a mistake playing Fultz so far this year. He is clearly not ready and the Sixers are not in a win-now state. While the Warriors dynasty and LeBron James are around, it will be almost impossible for Philly to break into the upper echelon of the NBA. Instead, they are better off waiting around 5 years.
After years of losing, why rush someone back who is supposed to be an integral piece of your team moving forward, especially given the Sixers’ history of caution. While the 76ers may have a chance at making the playoffs in the terrible Eastern Conference, there's no hurry. Fultz is 19-years old. If this had been the NBA of 25 years ago, he would still be in college.
Sitting him out for some time could be beneficial.
Recently, Simmons spoke about his year off and how it helped him.
“I learned the pace of the game,” Simmons said on the Dan Patrick Show. “There are different ways to score and defend players and read certain situations. I think that year off definitely helped.”
The Sixers need the Fultz who wowed people at Washington last year, not the one who looks like he has never played basketball before in his life. If that means sitting him for a year, so be it.
Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.