Ah yes, we still have 81 games left in the season. It didn’t seem that way after the incessant bitching and whining on Wednesday morning, but maybe we’ve come to our senses now.
The Sixers are going to commit to Markelle Fultz in this early part of the schedule, and they certainly should, but they need to be 100% in. You can’t half-ass this thing, and it starts with Brett Brown giving Markelle consistent second half minutes so that he finds rhythm and continuity with the first unit.
Fultz played 24 minutes on Tuesday night, 21 of which took place in the first half. The problem is not his minute total, because that’s a good overall number, but you have to distribute those minutes better so that he’s not sitting on the pine for most of the second half.
One thing you can do is split Fultz and JJ Redick in a front/back manner, meaning that Markelle can start each quarter before giving way to JJ to finish out the period.
It would look something like this:
- 1st quarter: Fultz 7 minutes, Redick 5 minutes
- 2nd quarter: Fultz 6 minutes, Redick 6 minutes
- 3rd quarter: Fultz 5 minutes, Redick 7 minutes
- 4th quarter: Fultz 4 minutes, Redick 8 minutes
That gives you 22 minutes for Markelle and 26 for JJ, who can then finish out the 4th quarter with the starters.
Fair? Unfair? Smart? Dumb? It’s just one way to move forward, depending on what the injury and bench situation looks like with Landry Shamet and T.J. McConnell in the mix. You’re going to have Zhaire Smith, Mike Muscala, and Wilson Chandler back at some point, so the rotation is going to look MUCH different than what we saw in the season opener.
Markelle took seven shots against Boston, a number I’d like to see in the 8-10 range moving forward. He passed twice on longer looks to bring the ball closer to the rim, which definitely can’t continue to happen.
His strongest look was obviously the mid-range jumper he hit off a half pick and roll while guarded by Terry Rozier and Aron Baynes:
That’s really a smooth shot right there, no over-thinking it. Boston generally likes to fight over the top of screens and aggressively defend the perimeter, so Markelle sees the Rozier over-play, pushes to the foul line, and hits the pull-up while sandwiched between two dudes. There’s a lot of “feel” in that sequence, with Markelle doing a nice job to sense Rozier as he pushes closer to Baynes.
Likewise, I thought he had a nice look on this play, which brought him to almost the exact same spot on the floor:
That’s a solid look.
Ben Simmons just dumps the ball to Markelle at the extended foul line, then instead of running a UCLA cut towards the rim, he instead becomes the screener in a pick and roll that also sees Joel Embiid pop out to the three point area.
Those are two good ways to get Markelle involved.
I know the Sixers are not a pick and roll team, but if you have to run 4-6 per game to get Markelle going, then do it, absolutely. There are enough possessions to go around, and you can wrap those PNR looks into combinations where Simmons can earn mismatches and post up smaller guys in the paint. The only real issue is that it sort of leaves Embiid hovering on the perimeter instead of in the paint, but we’ll see how they can evolve that look.
Those two clips I showed above were Markelle’s longest attempts of the game. He missed another elbow-ish jumper and went 1-4 in attempts at the rim:
Markelle didn’t shoot a ton of jumpers last year on his spring return, but he did have some games where he hit the totals I suggested above.
He had three games of double-digit shot attempts, the first of which was his first game back when he went 5-13 for 10 points against the Denver Nuggets. Here you see a cluster of stuff at the rim, but some similar elbow distance jump shots:
That’s a good pickup point for tonight – four to six attempts around the rim, three to five shots near the foul line, and maybe he’ll open it up for a three point try tonight.
Whatever happens against the Bulls, I hope it’s not this shit:
If Markelle Fultz plays poorly again tonight, should Sixers fans boo?
— WIP Morning Show (@WIPMorningShow) October 18, 2018
No, they shouldn’t boo, not after two games. If it gets to 10-15 games and we continue to see nothing from Markelle, then go for it, boo him out of the building. I certainly don’t think you can afford this experiment taking up 15% of the season, but to even bring up booing right now is corny as hell and predictably lazy.