Philadelphia 76ers: Markelle Fultz to the Atlanta Hawks just makes sense

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

If the Philadelphia 76ers are serious about moving on from 2017 first overall pick Markelle Fultz, they should give the Atlanta Hawks a call.

What a year it’s been for the Philadelphia 76ers.

After sitting perched atop the NBA lottery for years, the team finally turn the corner on their way back to NBA relevancy, almost doubling their win total in the process.

But while almost every player on the roster took a step forward in their development, one player who dreadfully underperformed was the one many expected to have the biggest impact on the team: Markelle Fultz.

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Though the 2017 NBA Draft didn’t have a consensus number one overall pick like the previous year did with Ben Simmons, then-GM Bryan Colangelo appeared set on leaving his mark on the roster and traded up with the Boston Celtics to acquire Fultz first overall, even though some members of the organization reportedly didn’t think it was the right move.

Those voices were quickly vindicated.

Following some solid performances for the Sixers in the Summer League, Fultz sustained a shoulder injury before the 2017-2018 season began that forever altered the course of his rookie campaign.

After appearing in the team’s first four games of the season, Fultz quickly found himself on the deep end of the bench due to his inability to raise his arm above his head to take a shot, missing the next 68 games as a result.

Needless to say, this created a minor media circus in the City of Brotherly Love.

With a plethora of bizarre stories surrounding the curious case of Fultz’s shoulder, like how he forget how to shoot all together, or his use VR goggles to simulate taking shots in game, many fans quietly started to wonder whether or not the ex-Washington Husky would ever become the dynamic combo guard many projected him to be in the pre-draft process. This choir of dissenting voices only grew louder as players selected after Fultz, like Donovan Mitchell, Dennis Smith Jr., and Jayson Tatum shined in starting roles for their teams.

So now, one year later, it’s worth wondering if Fultz has any future in Philly at all.

With the team set to add new talent in the draft and free agency, Fultz may not be as high of a priority with the new administration as he was for Colangelo and may slowly watch his perceived value slip away like Jahlil Okafor before him.

Boy, that situation was a nightmare.

No, if the 76ers really don’t foresee Fultz being part of their plans long-term, today would be the perfect day for them to move on from the troubled guard, and select a new player that better fits Brett Brown scheme.

Fortunately for the team, the Atlanta Hawks may be the perfect trade.

After spending the last few years as Browns assistant coach, the Hawks brought in Lloyd Pierce as their new head coach, hoping that his experience through The Process could make him the perfect man to helm the program’s current rebuild, and as we all know in Philadelphia, to rebuild a team, you need talent.

Say what you will about Fultz, but no one’s going to argue he doesn’t have talent.

Heralded for his ability to attack the basket from all three levels with top-tier speed, Fultz theoretically could lead a team committed to allowing him to run the show and hold onto the ball for the majority of the game. While his style of play may not be a great fit when paired with Ben Simmons on the 76ers roster, he could be a great piece to build around for an Atlanta franchise desperately searching for an identity.

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Sure, the team does still have diminutive point guard Dennis Schroder, one of Sam Hinkie‘s favorite players, under contract, but he also appears to be on the outs with his team, as he has reportedly demanded to be traded to a new team following a disastrous 24 win season.

Once the apple of the Sixers eyes, I doubt the team would be willing to swap out Fultz for Schroder one-for-one cash considerations notwithstanding.

No, if the 76ers were to trade Fultz to the Hawks, it would be for draft compensation or a young wing player like Taurean Prince.

Though Fultz value has certainly dropped over the last year, as he’s currently worth nowhere near two marquee first-round picks, he does still hold plenty of upsides, and could still probably fetch a mid-lottery first-round pick off upside alone. Or, if the team is serious about trading up in the draft to acquire Luka Doncic third overall, a player the Hawks apparently also curvate, Fultz could be the crown jewel of a package including the 10th overall pick, the 26th overall pick, and possibly an underperforming Pierce favorite like Justin Anderson, or Richaun Holmes.

Needless to say, there are plenty of options.

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While only time will tell what Brown wants to do in his current role as the team’s interim GM, and if Fultz is still in his plans moving forward, if the Philadelphia 76ers are serious about making a move on draft night, the Atlanta Hawks could be a perfect trade partner.