The Philadelphia 76ers drafted point guard Markelle Fultz with the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, effectively creating the youngest super team in the league. Fultz is only 19 years old and averaged 23 points and nearly 6 rebounds and assists in his lone season at Washington. Aside from his quickness, high basketball IQ, and elite motor skills, Fultz hit a 41.3% rate from deep along with a combined 2.8 steals and blocks per game which underscores his two-way skills.
The Sixers traded up to bag Fultz sending the Boston Celtics their No. 3 overall pick and a future first-round pick. Fultz now joins a young core which includes 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons (20 years), a 7-footer who can play the point guard position, Joel Embiid (23 years) who averaged 20.2 points and nearly 8 rebounds last season until an injury cut it short, and power forward Dario Saric (23 years). You also have shooter Robert Covington on a cheap contract together with another above average center Jahlil Okafor. Things are definitely looking up for the 76ers after years of being the league’s doormat and laughingstock.
This rebuilding started during the 2013-2014 season when Sam Hinkie was named general manager. Under his tenure, the phrase “trust the process” became a mantra inside the Sixers locker room but was of course drowned out by the ineptness of the team. During Hinkie’s era, the team only won 47 out of a possible 246 games or a 19% win rate including a disastrous 10-72 campaign in 2015-2016. The “process” became a standing joke since the 76ers were basically accused of sandbagging to get draft picks.
This was worsened by the fact that their top picks would always get injured. Embiid for instance missed the first two years of his pro career. Simmons has never played in an NBA game and will only make his debut this season. Hinkie basically ruined his reputation as he continued to trust the process. He was replaced by Bryan Colangelo last year.
Colangelo converted all the assets that Hinkie acquired over the years into the trade that gave them a once-in-a-generation player Markelle Fultz. Hinkie’s end game really was to acquire as many assets as possible while drafting young and talented players that had potential to become superstars. Whatever his faults, Hinkie positioned the 76ers well which allowed them to pull the trigger on this trade.
After years in limbo, the 76ers suddenly have something to look forward to, a solid vision of a young, superstar team that could very well contend for titles in 3 to 4 years. All that losing has finally paid off and the 76ers faithful are now salivating over their team’s prospects.
This young team would really have an easy time fulfilling expectations. After all, the 76ers have not been to the playoffs in the past five years and have not made it past the conference semifinals since the Allen Iverson era. At the very least, the painful process is finally over.