June 18, 2017
Praise – both for the Sixers and the Celtics – has been pouring in from almost every angle regarding the trade that will allow Philly to select Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in Thursday night's NBA Draft. Almost every angle.
And that includes our own Rich Hofmann, who said it deserves a A-/B+ grade, and offered his extensive thoughts on the blockbuster deal, here.
Well, it took me a while, but I've finally found him, the person who doesn't like the deal struck between Bryan Colangelo and Danny Ainge: Inquirer columnist Bob Brookover. And while he's dead wrong in his evaluation of trade, I've got to give him credit for the way in which he began his Sunday column.
Again, he couldn't be more wrong. But this first paragraph, which was also his lede, couldn't be more perfect in summing up most instant analysis of trades and draft picks.
That's where we'll start today's What They're Saying about the Sixers...
I confess that I have never seen Markelle Fultz play a basketball game and I was not at his 76ers workout Saturday in Camden. Still, it is hard to stamp a seal of approval on what the franchise is about to do.
If, as expected, the 76ers complete a trade with the Boston Celtics on Monday that gives them the first overall selection in the draft for a second straight year, there is only one way that it will go down as a great decision. Fultz, who turned 19 less than a month ago, must be the game's next great point guard in an era that has placed so much emphasis on that position.
For what the Sixers are reportedly sending to the Celtics, they must get the next Russell Westbrook, the next James Harden, or the next Steph Curry in return. Anything less and this trade will join so many other franchise failures since 2001, when the Sixers made their last appearance in the NBA Finals. [philly.com]
I've never seen him play – not that it matters because it's too early to judge the trade – but here's my contrarian opinion anyway.
I want to be mad at Bob. I just, can't. There's something endearing about that level of honesty.
And now, on to the good stuff...
Fultz is loaded with potential and fits perfectly with the Sixers. They have Simmons at forward (if he's healthy) and Joel Embiid (if he's healthy). What they have needed for years is a point guard who could shoot and create from the perimeter.
Yes, they surrender a lot of upside and value, but the Sixers are in a position to move past that station in their rebuild, and Fultz represents an opportunity to take a quantum leap. At some point capitalizing on what you have outweighs acquiring value to mitigate your risk. The Sixers are stocked with a core that could be one of the best in the league, with time, after this deal. [cbssports.com]
By adding Fultz to a core that already includes Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Dario Saric, the Sixers have fulfilled the process started by now-internet deity Sam Hinkie, whose seeds reap rewards in his absence — and even though it may not be to his liking. Barring injury, the Sixers are bound to have a competitive core for years. They’re like the young Timberwolves team we’ve been expecting, but if they added yet another piece. Get excited. [theringer.com]
The Sixers got an A+ grade from Golliver, while Boston got an A- for the deal.
While all three of the Sixers’ building blocks remain unknowns, the fit here is promising: Simmons is a pass-first point forward who can collapse a defense, Fultz is a shooter who can space alongside Simmons and should thrive as a secondary playmaker, and Embiid, when healthy, is a do-everything, two-way center who can play pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop with either Simmons or Fultz. Given those complementary skills and profiles, building around this trio should be a lot easier than assembling it.
The sneaky nice thing about this deal from Philadelphia’s is that it still makes sense in less-promising alternate scenarios. Let’s say Embiid, who has played just 31 total games in his first three seasons, simply can’t stay healthy. In that case, Fultz and Simmons still form an intriguing and potent duo to guide a longer-than-expected turnaround. It’s possible to envision Fultz functioning like a Damian Lillard-like savior for the post-Oden Blazers. [si.com]
For what it’s worth, Herbert gave the Celtics a B grade for the trade.
Ultimately, it will be just about impossible to argue with this move if Fultz develops into an All-Star. Since Philadelphia was able to hold on to one of those future picks, this feels like a home run. Beyond just adding what seems to be the right player for a reasonable price this could wind up being a pivotal moment for the franchise because of what it represents. Whether it's this summer or next, a significant player could decide he wants to be a part of what the Sixers are doing, whether it's a free agent or a trade target who is suddenly more open to re-signing with them. There are still plenty of unknowns in Philadelphia -- Embiid and Simmons' health, Robert Covington's potential contract extension, how Dario Saric will fit with Simmons, etc. -- but everyone around the league can see this team has a chance to be special.
Grade: A [cbssports.com]
But it would be unfair to lay all of this success at the feet of Hinkie. Colangelo deserves credit for selecting Simmons last year, and then pulling the trigger on a deal this year that has set the team up with not just a core for the future, but also a core that fits together. And the cupboard isn’t bare into the future, either. The Sixers still have their own first-rounders, and they will have either this Lakers pick in 2018 or the Kings pick in 2019.
This is almost like The Process 2.0, a combination of the efforts of each of the past two front offices. Hinkie had the vision, and Colangelo actualized it in a way that has gone perfectly. Maybe Hinkie would have done the same, but instead let’s give both credit for putting the Sixers in a place where they now have possibly the most exciting future in the NBA five years from now. It’ll still take some breaks, but the hard part might be over.
Sixers Grade: A+ [sportingnews.com]
Colangelo had to find a player who matched with 2016’s no. 1 pick Ben Simmons, a point guard with a forward’s body, who shoots with the wrong hand. Simmons is a generational talent with a collection of super powers — strength, speed, and telepathic passing. But shooting is his kryptonite. Simmons shot 18 of 63 (28.6 percent) on jump shots at LSU and in Sixers Summer League, and he’s often reluctant to let it fly. NBA defenses will sag off him, double-dog daring him to shoot, clogging the lane. Down the line, Simmons could turn into a perfectly competent shooter. But the outlook now is bleak. Simmons has a major problem in a league where shooting and spacing are paramount to success.
For this year’s draft, the Sixers needed a player who could offset Simmons’s weakness by providing another source of playmaking while also offering spot-up shooting ability and versatile defense. Fultz does all of that in ways no player available at the third slot could; that’s why losing one of their two valuable future firsts is worth it. [theringer.com]
The reaction in Philly, as one might guess, has been even more positive (with that one aforementioned exemption), if you can believe it.
The most common question is whether Fultz will be able to share backcourt duties with Ben Simmons, whom Brett Brown and Bryan Colangelo have said is going to be their point guard. The answer is a quick and resounding yes.
When the Sixers speak of the point guard position, it isn't in the way that many think - a player coming back to the ball, bringing it up the court, and setting up the offense. The Sixers want the ball and their players constantly moving forward. So Simmons may have the ball in his hands facilitating, but that will come through his own rebounding and outlet passes. They want to run, run, and run some more. And if that isn't there, ball movement is the key to their offense. The Sixers led the league last season in passes, which is exactly what Brown wants. So having someone who can pass, shoot, lead a break, and run the floor along with Simmons is ideal. [philly.com]
I'd have been willing to send No. 3, either 2018 first-round choice and even the Sixers' 2019 first-rounder for Fultz if Ainge would prefer a third pick sooner than '21 — assuming the sore right knee that sidelined him for six of his final eight collegiate games is deemed medically sound. That's how highly I think of Fultz…
Allow yourself to imagine a Sixers' core trio of Fultz, who'll be 20 at the start of the 2017-18 season, Joel Embiid (23) and Ben Simmons (21). Think how much talent that is and what a bright future that would represent for the Sixers, assuming the players are healthy.
"I think it'd be pretty cool," Fultz said. "The upside of it would be crazy." [theintell.com]
Fultz is one of the best lead guard prospects of the decade, melding a combination of elite physical tools and skills. As the last member of a proverbial Sixers’ Big Three, there are few players who appear to be as attractive a fit and star, both, as Fultz.
Fultz enters draft season as perhaps the most gifted pick and roll ball handler since Kyrie Irving. He sports a tight, slithery handle that allows him to get to his spots on the floor with ease, and he routinely splits double teams. With his shake and creativity, he’s an incredibly difficult driver to bottle up, especially with a two-on-one advantage. [libertyballers.com]
And the Sixers get the best guy in this draft, as opposed to facing some thorny questions about the possibilities at No. 3. Would Lonzo Ball’s dad be a pain in the butt (if the Lakers, holding the second overall choice, pass on him)? Would Josh Jackson’s off-court issues be a preview of coming distractions? Can De’Aaron Fox shoot? Can Malik Monk do anything other than shoot?
None of that matters now. They will get their guy, with the help of assets acquired in the Sam Hinkie Era. (A pause here, while a certain segment of the fan base genuflects.) They have their nucleus and can watch it grow. [csnphilly.com]
Regardless of how many future picks the Sixers may need to part with, the overarching consensus here is relatively simple — Fultz is a net positive. He’s not only the best point guard prospect since Kyrie Irving, but has the potential to be one of the best prospects overall entering the league over the past few seasons. He has the on-court production and physical tools needed to back up the hype as well, while his personality seems well-suited to the NBA grind.
Perhaps the best attribute Fultz boasts, though, is his ability to produce at a high level from day one. [thesixersense.com]
“It was a dream I had since I was a young kid,” Fultz said. “But like I said, it just shows how much hard work I put in and how dedicated I am to do what I do. I set goals for myself and go out there and achieve them.
“I’m just a hard worker and I’m going to do whatever it takes on any team I go to to win.”
Just dub the audio of “Gonna Fly Now” over his DraftExpress scouting video. It’s easy to let your imagination run wild and envision him riding down Broad Street in a parade float as one of the three potential saviors of the Sixers franchise along with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. [libertyballers.com]
Because this was so overwhelming positive, I decided to include this disclaimer of sorts from the Inky's Bob Ford:
Seismic shifts always seem to accompany this sort of move. The Sixers made the worst mistake in franchise history when they traded the top pick in 1986 (Brad Daugherty) for Roy Hinson in a draft-day disaster that included packaging Moses Malone to Washington for Jeff Ruland. Even with Charles Barkley on the roster for much of the next decade, it took at least that long to recover – with the selection of Allen Iverson – and in some ways it really never recovered.
The Celtics, by contrast, did pretty well when they traded away the No. 1 pick in 1980, sending it to Golden State along with the No. 13 pick in exchange for the No. 3 pick and center Robert Parish. The third pick became Kevin McHale, while the top pick, Joe Barry Carroll, became a poster boy for failed potential. [philly.com]
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