Before the 2017 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers traded up for the first overall selection, and their motive now may be more clear. Bryan Colangelo, who was the Sixers’ President at the time, was reportedly enamored with point guard prospect Markelle Fultz.
The All-American had a subpar workout with Philly, causing some other executives within the organization to suggest they take another look at their options including Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum. However, Colangelo wasn’t having it. He felt that Fultz was their guy and no one was going to change his mind, and for good reason.
Fultz has tremendous upside potential. He is the only player in recent memory to average 20 points, five boards, and five assists while shooting at a 40 percent clip from behind the arc while he was attending Washington. Fultz is also arguably the most athletic prospect in his draft class who can explode to the rim. Just take a look:
We see you working, @MarkelleF! (Via markellefultz/IG) pic.twitter.com/OnQvlXIxPN
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 28, 2018
He still has a lot to prove though, dealing with a shoulder injury that derailed his rookie campaign. Fulz averaged only 7.1 points and 3.8 assists per game in his small sample size of NBA action. His one bright spot was returning to the court ahead of schedule and posting a triple-double off the bench, becoming the youngest to do so.
Markelle Fultz records his first NBA triple-double in the Sixers 16th straight victory…this team pic.twitter.com/pU4Fe12WMn
— NBA Lowdown (@NBALowdown) April 12, 2018
The Celtics certainly aren’t losing any sleep over their deal with the Sixers, acquiring a future first round pick in addition to the 3rd overall selection in the 2017 draft. They used that pick to take Jayson Tatum, a player they were prepared to take first overall had they kept it. Now a Rookie of the Year Finalist, Tatum helped Boston reach the Eastern Conference Finals by posting 18.5 points and 4.4 rebounds a night in the playoffs.
Whether the Sixers like it or not, Fultz is their player even in the aftermath of the Twitter scandal that led to Colangelo’s dismissal. They can only hope that his decision won’t come back to haunt them.