How Markelle Fultz ruined the Philadelphia 76ers

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With a still-pressing need for a second unit difference-maker, it’s clear Markelle Fultz ruined the Philadelphia 76ers’ championship-caliber game plan.

The Philadelphia 76ers are close to a complete team, but do you know what they could really use to put themselves over the top? A 6-foot-5 combo guard with speed, ball handling, and an ability to put up points.

Funny enough, the Sixers had that very type of player on their roster in this very calendar year, only to trade him away for a second-round pick, a potentially fake first-round pick, and a player who is currently out of the NBA.

Now just to put it out there, I don’t want to talk about his shoulder, I don’t want to talk about his Mom, and I don’t want to talk about how financially feasible it would have been to keep him around. You know it, I know it, its common knowledge.

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No, what I want to talk about is how Markelle Fultz ruined the Philadelphia 76ers.

You see, when Bryan Colangelo (remember him?) traded up from three to one to select Fultz first overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, it was with the express purpose of making him the final piece in a homegrown Big 3 flanked by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Would it have been a little weird since Simmons and Fultz ay the same position? A bit, but no more so than saying Al Horford at the four next to Embiid now.

Historically speaking, teams have done pretty well with a guard/forward/big trio as their three best players, and despite how things turned out, the idea in theory tracked.

And then Fultz went and goofed it up.

Again, not knocking his shoulder, how long it took for him to get a ‘correct’ diagnosis or any external factors that affected him staying with the team, but you (probably) don’t lose RoCo, Dario Saric, or J.J. Redick if Fultz worked out going into 2018.

Heck, you could even argue that the trades for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris could have still gone down had Fultz remained a part of the team’s plans – leaving the only true casualty of his retention being Horford (and Josh Richardson if Butler didn’t demand a trade).

A Simmons, Redick, Butler, Harris, and Embiid starting five with Fultz, James Ennis, Mike Scott, and Matisse Thybulle coming off the bench. That’s an upgrade over a team that fell four bounces away from an Eastern Conference Finals bout against the Milwaukee Bucks, a team JoJo has proven he can beat single-handedly.

I’d kind of like to see how that team stacks up with 82 games to work with – too bad it’ll never happen.

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When the Philadelphia 76ers traded Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic, even if it was for a song, it felt like the entire Delaware Valley breathed a huge sign of relief. But now, some 10 months later, it’s a shame that the very type of player the Sixers desperately need to succeed is the one they targeted, found, and traded up to acquire, only to have to move on unceremoniously for next to nothing. Good things fans in the City of Brotherly Love are known for their willingness to forgive and forget.