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June 22, 2017

2017 NBA Draft: Sixers select Washington guard Markelle Fultz with top overall pick

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The Process has taken four seasons, and the Sixers look like they’re about to start seeing some results.

To the surprise of the nobody, the Philadelphia 76ers selected University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Fultz will join an exciting young Sixers core with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and a slew of other young players.

Fultz, who averaged 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.9 assists at the University of Washington, knows a little about adversity after being cut from the varsity as a sophomore (like Michael Jordan) in high school at powerhouse DeMatha Catholic in Maryland. He already knows a few things about the catchphrase that has come to define this era of Sixers basketball.

“The big thing we used to say back then was Trust the Process, not transferring schools,” Fultz told reporters in New York a day before the draft. “I didn’t know about saying Trust the Process with Philly until probably my senior year when I was watching basketball and seeing the tweets about it.”

It was a surprise in the first place that Fultz, a lead guard who can score at all three levels of the defense, was available to the Sixers in the first place. Philadelphia sat at No. 3 after the draft lottery, and it was expected that Fultz would be drafted No. 1 overall by the Boston Celtics.

But Danny Ainge and the Boston front office weren’t exactly enamored with Fultz, which allowed the Sixers to trade up to the top spot by combining a couple of valuable future picks that former general manager Sam Hinkie acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings as the sweetener to get the deal done. Here are the specific details and pick protections involved with the trade.

With the trade, Fultz could be the rare first-overall pick who enters the NBA with someone to prove wrong. Despite that, Fultz maintains that he doesn’t feel slighted by the Celtics’ decision.

“Actually, I’m just happy I got a chance to play basketball,” Fultz said. “So when they did that, I really didn’t have any feelings really. So that’s how that went.”

The Sixers, particularly Embiid and Saric, showed a decent amount of promise in improving from 10 to 28 wins in 2016-17. Heading into opening night next season, they will add the last two top overall picks in the NBA Draft to that core after Ben Simmons missed his rookie season with an injury.

So yeah, things could start getting fun in Philly real fast.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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