The Philadelphia 76ers should trade Markelle Fultz for D’Angelo Russell

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
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In Russ We Trust

Now granted, Russell is hardly a player with a clean track record in the NBA, as he’s had his fair share of controversies both on and off the court, but just a few years back, fans in the 215 desperately wanted the former Ohio State point guard running their team.

It may seem like distant history now, but I distinctly remember watching the draft lottery and hearing breathless gasps of the fans around me when Philly received the third overall pick, one spot below the Los Angeles Lakers.

That’s right, had the ping-pong balls somehow fallen Philly’s way, the team may have selected Russell, not Jahlil Okafor in the 2015 NBA Draft and set the franchise up for an entirely different future.

Would Sam Hinkie have been fired if Russell and Joel Embiid, a pair of high school teammates, had formed a dynamic frontcourt-backcourt one-two punch?

And what about Ben Simmons? If such a paring did work, would the team have still lost enough games to secure the number one overall pick, or could we be living in a world where Brandon Ingram is a 76er? Or worse, Jonathan Isaacs?

Needless to say, this is getting a bit too hypothetical for this setting, but still, the fact remains that once upon a time Philly fans desperately clamored for Russell, so why shouldn’t they still have a soft spot in their hearts for the young combo guard?

Some of that depressed goodwill could be attributed to Russell’s issues both on and off the court, like struggling to knock down 3s at a steady clip within LA, or the now infamous Iggy Azalia-Nick Young locker room taping, but that all happened two-plus seasons ago. Since arriving in Brooklyn as part of a draft-day trade that the Los Angeles Lakers somehow won thanks to drafting Kyle Kuzma, Russell has quietly developed his game considerably, to where he’s now statistically an above average starting point guard capable of creating his own shot and getting shots for his teammates.

Isn’t that essentially what the 76ers wanted when they selected Fultz first overall in the first place; a combo guard who can knock down 39 percent of his 3s and average 16.5 points and five assists a game? If Russell’s 2018 averages hold up, that’s the player they could get if a trade went down.