Should the Philadelphia 76ers draft Markelle Fultz if he falls to third?

2017 NBA Draft and potential Philladelphia 76ers prospect Markelle Fultz. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
2017 NBA Draft and potential Philladelphia 76ers prospect Markelle Fultz. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports /

If Markelle Fultz falls to the third spot in the 2017 NBA Draft, should the Philadelphia 76ers pull the trigger?

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers found out they would be drafting third overall in this years’ NBA Draft, scheduled for June 22. Washingtons’ Markelle Fultz is predicted to go first.

Most experts have that pick landing Josh Jackson in Philly — the athletic, defensive-minded wing prospect out of Kansas that has spent plenty of time atop big boards and mock drafts this season.

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  • As I alluded to in an earlier column, the prospects of pairing J.J. and Ben Simmons together in the backcourt or on the wing is horrifying if you’re a fan of another team.

    Both players are exceptionally talented, athletic, agile and versatile, and teams will have a nightmare trying to guard both on the court at the same time. And that’s before bringing Joel Embiid and Dario Saric into the equation.

    But while most predict the Draft to fall this way, the NBAs’ annual talent distributor is far from simple mathematics. In fact, it’s much like dropping a reaction ball.

    Sometimes, you drop it perfectly straight, and it’ll bounce right up back into your hand. But you should never expect that. You need always be ready for the distinct possibility that it dances away from you in every which-way. Let’s, for a moment, entertain the possibility that Fultz is on the board when Philadelphia is picking. Do they take him?

    Let’s speculate on what will need to happen for the Huskies’ guard to fall into the lap of Bryan Colangelo.

    First of all, the Boston Celtics, the holders of the number one pick, will need to pass on the former University of Washington star, despite him being not only the consensus best prospect in the Draft, but also the best fit.

    That will require Boston General Manager Danny Ainge to either not be able to escape the hype of Lonzo Ball, or fall in love with Jackson.

    As far as I can stretch my imagination, no one should be expecting either of these things to happen.

    Where Fultz has the ability to play off of Isaiah Thomas, Ball does not — and unless the Celtics intend to trade IT instantly, they won’t be drafting Ball.

    More draft: A Case for Lonzo Ball

    As for Josh Jackson, the C’s already have their own long, lanky wingman wonder in Jaylen Brown.

    Unless they’re absolutely desperate to add another, presumably to trade Avery Bradley in anticipation of him leaving in free agency in 2018-19, I see no reason for them to pick him, unless they think he’s the best prospect in the Draft.

    So, somehow Boston has passed on Fultz — and now he’s available for the Los Angeles Lakers to pick at number two. Let’s explore the two timelines we’ve created.

    In the first, the Celtics have taken J.J., unable to pass up on the versatility he offers the team, enamored with giving themselves two chances to develop the transcendent wing talent that all teams crave in 2017.

    More from The Sixer Sense

    If this happens, Los Angeles are picking Ball. It’s written in the stars, the same way LeBron James landing on the Cleveland Cavaliers was in 2003, opening the door for the Sixers to grab Markelle Fultz.

    But in the second, Boston has bought into the Big Baller Brand and taken the eldest Ball. Now the Lakers’ hometown hero, the golden child, is off the board. Despite Fultz still being the consensus best prospect on the board, there is a reasonable argument to be made for the Lake Show drafting Jackson instead.

    The obvious one is current point guard D’Angelo Russell, who just finished his sophomore year in Hollywood.

    Whilst he has not burned the house down statistically in either of those years, there is still some value in seeing what he has to offer at the point guard role, rather than drafting Fultz and presumably shifting Russell off the ball.

    Related Story: Sixers Should Make an Offer for D'Angelo Russell

    Perhaps they do draft Josh Jackson, and go for the offense-defense-incredible upside punch offered by a J.J.-Brandon Ingram pairing.

    Now Broad Street is on the clock, and Markelle Fultz is theirs for the taking. Do they do it?


    What Fultz offers Philadelphia is simply too enticing to turn down. His physical tools are excellent. He’s an extremely gifted athlete, with incredible balance to boot.

    He’s an exceptionally talented scorer, able to put the ball in the hole from anywhere on the court, and is effective on and off the ball, both with and without main ball handler Ben Simmons on the court. He also possesses flair with his dribble moves, something not seen in the City of Brotherly Love since Allen Iverson graced the Wells Fargo Center.

    He’s also good in the pick-and-roll, in which Philly will be able to utilize him in alongside Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

    Whilst he is a good defender, he will need to improve to enter the “elite” category in the NBA, but he has all the tools to do so, with standing at 6-5, 190 with a 6-10 wingspan. Fultz would join the team as its’ combo guard, to go alongside a point forward (Simmons) and an inside-outside big man in Embiid.

    This is without mentioning a multi-skilled power forward (Saric), a long, scoring wing (Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot) and the European Champions League Young Player of the Year, shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz.

    Next: The Sixers Can't Trust the 2017 NBA Draft

    If there’s a better way to start a team, I don’t know it.

    Let’s wind the clock all the way back now – we still have the third overall pick, we’re still forecast for Josh Jackson, and a lot of water needs to pass under the bridge before Fultz becomes available.

    But if he does, Philly need not hesitate.