962 words, including the dateline indicating that he needed to be in Boston to churn this out, is how many David Murphy needed to tell us… that the Sixers might have a problem if Markelle Fultz doesn’t figure things out soon.
The nut, which took a solid three paragraphs to get to:
It is easy to gloss over the significance of the Fultz situation, given the wild success his team has enjoyed this season. Winning 52 games and a playoff series has made it easy for all of us to play along with the notion that this has always been a simple matter of a young player taking time to develop. But ask yourself this question: If it is true that the Sixers’ timetable accelerated this season, and they are much closer to contention than any of us thought they’d be, then isn’t it also be true that their decision-making timetable has accelerated as well? And if Fultz isn’t a sure-enough thing to pencil into a playoff lineup in May of 2018, then how can he possibly become such a thing in time for July, when Bryan Colangelo and his front office must start making the moves that they feel are necessary to make next year’s roster better than the current version?
And maybe that, right there, is the answer. If you don’t know what you have, then you have to act as if you don’t have anything. And if that’s how you have to act, then Fultz’s future seems that much more uncertain. There are only so many minutes, with regards to both playing time and patience.
My name is David, and I like to hear myself write.
That is a magnificent job of proving Occam’s razor. If, if, if. This column is akin to looking at a toaster and declaring that it might be better served with bread inside. We can do without the theorizing that it’s actually best used as a turkey fryer.
I wrote about Fultz yesterday, so you can read my take there if you wish, but the gist is this: Fultz was drafted on a timeline for the Sixers to become contenders in two years. Going into the draft, everyone knew that Jayson Tatum was the most NBA-ready player. We’re seeing him prove it. So while seeing Fultz sit on the bench while Tatum tears it up on the court is the equivalent of a swift kick in the nuts by your girlfriend’s yoga instructor named Brad, it doesn’t change the fact that Fultz was never supposed to contribute on a contender this season or next. The Sixers’ timeline just accelerated, thanks to a wide-open East and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid developing radically faster than could have reasonably been expected. Regardless of where Fultz was going to be this summer, the Sixers had always planned on making a splash in free agency (see one year contract, JJ Redick). It also happens that the big-name players the Sixers are reportedly linked to and or interested in – LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George – don’t play Fultz’s position, and were the Sixers to land one of them, I could play point combo guard and they would still win 60 games. Never mind that Ben Simmons handles the ball, and a three-point shooter, a la Redick, is easier to come by.
That’s not to diminish the value of Fultz and how him realizing his potential, or even close to it, would have the Sixers as a lock to win the conference multiple times over the next few years, but I don’t think the Fultz situation seriously impacts what the Sixers will or won’t do this offseason.