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July 06, 2017

Markelle Fultz shows promise and room for improvement, with GIFs and stuff

Sixers NBA

We’re still very early in Markelle Fultz’s Sixers career, but the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft seems to give an honest assessment of his game on a fairly regular basis.

“To see my shot falling is all good, but now I just got to work on the other things that’s not going right, which is the defensive end and some of the stuff on the offensive end, just learning my turnovers,” Fultz said after going for 23 points on 9-16 shooting (9-14 if you take out full-court heaves at the end of quarters), 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 turnovers in 100-94 loss to the Summer Utah Jazz.

And that was more or less a very honest assessment of Fultz’s play through two summer league games. On Wednesday, he struggled with ball security and on the defensive end guarding Dante Exum, the latter of which shouldn’t be all that surprising if you watched Fultz at Washington.

Exum has a head of steam here in transition, but Fultz isn’t exactly proactive in trying to thwart the drive closer to halfcourt:

Another area that Fultz will have to work on defensively is fighting through screens. No offense to Kaleb Tarczewski, but having Joel Embiid on the back line will make life a lot easier for Fultz in this respect, but the rookie has to work harder to fight over or under these screens in a more efficient manner. Don’t consistently “die” on them:

And on back-to-back plays in the second quarter, Fultz had his worst defensive possessions of the game, allowing Exum to blow by him with very little resistance. Get in a stance, young man!

Exum, who was drafted a few spots behind Embiid in 2014, is a very good defensive guard with legit NBA experience. Exum won the head-to-head matchup, but this was a good test for Fultz in summer league.

Fultz’s playmaking was more of a mixed bag. On the negative side, he did have six turnovers. Some of those had to do with overdribbling and others had to do with driving into congested areas:

I’m not too worried about most of those plays. He’s a rookie point guard playing with guys who have never played together. Once he gets NBA spacing and a consistent NBA system (along with some NBA experience), I’m confident he’ll figure those areas out.

They weren’t always quite as quick as you may have wanted, but Fultz made some nice reads out of the pick-and-roll, noticing the defender crashing down on the roll man and skipping the ball to the weak-side corner for open shots:

And like we already wrote, Fultz went 9-14 for 23 points against a legitimately good defensive guard in Exum. The talent level is very apparent:

The Hesi Step-Back Jimbo!

That is so, so advanced from a kid who just turned 19, and it’s the reason that Fultz was the top overall pick. His potential when it comes to running high pick-and-roll is immense.

Joel Embiid is the exception to the rule. Like almost all rookies, Markelle Fultz is going to struggle at times, even in summer league. But the first few nights in Utah, you can see how effortless he can make extremely advanced offensive moves look.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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