Right Now the Chasm Between Jayson Tatum and Markelle Fultz is a Deep and Dark One

Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

I caught myself doing a slight fist-pump three minutes into the second quarter of the 76ers game as Markelle Fultz nailed a 14-foot jump shot for his first points of the year. I found myself saying out-loud in an empty room that his shot “didn’t look THAT bad.”

It didn’t look that bad?

I’m happy that the 2017 NBA draft #1 overall pick’s 14-foot jump shot didn’t look THAT bad?

There would be no more fist pumps after that moment. Just depression. And frustration.

Three minutes into the second quarter Fultz notched his first points of the game after taking only three shots. Until that point he was largely invisible, just a nondescript player bringing the ball up the court, immediately looking to give it up to either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid, and then almost hoping to disappear into the comfortable area beyond the three-point line where he could observe the action undisturbed.

By the time Fultz made his first not-as-quite-herky-jerky-but-still-slowly-developing jump shot, Jayson Tatum already had 12 points and was making his impact felt on both ends of the court.

Tatum poured in another 11 points to pace the Celtics in their decisive season-opening victory over the Sixers. Fultz would spend almost the entire second half on the bench drinking Gatorade.

The chasm between the two players has never been deeper, darker, or more evident than it was last night. If you fell into the black abyss and screamed out “trust the process,” it would echo back 10-times over before you finally hit the hard, cold ground.

Look, it’s just one game. I know it. You know it. The 76ers know it. But as I watched and caught myself celebrating a jump shot Jerryd Bayless could make 9 times out of 10, depression wrapped around me like a dull, weighted blanket. As Tatum effortlessly glided up and down the floor, getting his shot off against defenders whenever he wanted, I was looking for the fleeting scraps of positivity in Fultz’s game, trying to latch on to anything good.

That’s not the way I want to watch these games. Having to find the rays of sunshine that occasionally peak through the violent storm clouds of his career is not what any of us want to do, or envisioned ourselves doing, in the second year of Fultz’s career.

It’s depressing to have to claw and clutch at the moral victories of such a highly touted college prospect, who let’s not forget was the OVERWHELMING choice to go #1 in the draft two years ago, and embarrassingly fist-pump on our couches because he made a run of the mill jump shot.

It’s early, and throwing Fultz into the incinerator after disappearing on the national stage of opening night wouldn’t be fair to him. The talent is there, the confidence obviously is not, and he can still turn into a valuable piece of the 76ers puzzle. Hell, early last season Tatum wasn’t the player we saw last night. He grew into the role and his game peaked marvelously in the playoffs.

Can Fultz do the same thing? Can he keep working, keep grinding, and become the player we all hope he will? It’s possible, the window isn’t closed, but tangible progress needs to be made and it needs to be made soon, or Fultz might as well just cast himself into that chasm before the fans do it for him.

In two months I want to be fist-pumping as he confidently makes a go-ahead driving layup or a 20-foot jump shot in the fourth quarter, not limply celebrating yet another hesitant, second quarter shot that may or may not go in.

Go grab a shovel, Markelle, because it’s time to start filling up that chasm, bucket by bucket.


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16 Responses

  1. I feel like we are never going to see what the Process was supposed to be because of this trade in particular. We gave away assets for a player we could have probably gotten at #3. So frustrating.

  2. How do you write an article comparing Fultz to Tatum and not once mention the fact that we traded the Kings pick to move up? A pick that will probably be in the top 4 next year.

  3. The $ixers can still win a title with him. On the other hand Tatum looks like a perennial all-star and a top 20 player in league.

  4. Fultz is one of the oddest things i’ve ever seen before in sports. I was all for the trade and didn’t even mind giving up the extra pick. For that, i can’t act pissed at Colangelo. Maybe Ainge was turned off when he met Fultz at the workouts or maybe he knew he was trading for Kyrie and didn’t need him and could take Tatum after a trade down, who knows.

    I do lay a lot of the blame on Brett Brown. They looked completely unprepared to play last night. So many unforced turnovers and for a “motion offense” there seems to be a lot of guys just standing around watching the ball. Saric played like he had half a shit hanging out his ass, Covington couldn’t cover his man with a blanket and Fultz looked like Oliver McCall in his 2nd fight with Lennox Lewis. Simmons had a pretty good game and looked like the only guy mentally prepared to play. Embiid gets the worst tunnel vision, although i guess i can’t blame him since he’s the only guy who can and is willing to get his own shot. And also, is it just me or does our elite rim protector spend most of his time on defense guarding the perimeter. Brown needs to stop switching him on defense or he is going to run him ragged. Fultz is one thing, but the entire team has absolutely zero “dog” in them. Boston is the “alpha male” in these games and always punk out this team. It’s one of the reasons i wouldn’t mind a trade for Jimmy Butler since it seems he is someone who would bring some fire with him.

  5. Anyone else having issues viewing CB on mobile? It’s not updating. I was seeing yesterday’s article as the most recent article. I switch to desktop mode and that fixes it, I get up to date articles.
    Never seen this happen ever.
    That’s not the only issue either. Last month I’d click on comments and it would send me to another “version” of the site, is the best way to put it.
    Weird stuff at CB 4sure

    1. I get both problems on mobile as well, but with the former, refreshing it a couple times usually fixes it. Idk wtf that other version is, but I get that on mobile daily.

  6. Didn’t Fultz not make freshman, sophomore, junior HS basketball team? Then finally made it senior year. Then he was one and done in college. That’s not the makings of a number one pick

  7. Let’s get the show going tonight after the setback suffered by our Sixers. Tonight the Warriors gave out their rings and they honored the title teams from when the team was here before they moved out West. I have an easy question for you folks. The 1956 championship team guard who came of the bench went to what high school and who was the name of his high school coach. I will give you a hint. The high school coach won the state championship in the 1940’s for a very famous high school. The guard also frequently ate dinner at Chopsticks on City Line Avenue. With those two hints it doesn’t get any easier.
    All the lines are open. I would expect the board to be lit up as most you have guessed the answer. While were waiting do you know my college and pro picks went 9-1 this past weekend. I hope your pockets are filled. Looks like we have some calls. John from the northeast do you have the answer. Jolly, I will take a crack at it. Was it Cheeks. John, you have to be kidding. He didn’t even play for the Warriors. When he we comeback from break. We should have someone with the right answer.

    1. I’m in indifferent to Jolly. I don’t love him, but I don’t hate him either. I just wish the guy would cough. He always sounds like he is the midst of a cold with phlegm sitting in his throat.

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