Adding Markelle Fultz marks the end of “The Process”

Feb 26, 2017; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) looks on form the bench during a game against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars won 79-71. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 26, 2017; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington Huskies guard Markelle Fultz (20) looks on form the bench during a game against the Washington State Cougars during the second half at Friel Court at Beasley Coliseum. The Cougars won 79-71. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports /

Now that the trade between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers  trade has been accepted, adding Markelle Fultz is the final piece of the rebuilding puzzle.

The NBA world has been buzzing ever since rumors about a potential swap of draft picks between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers leaked.  Late on Saturday, it was announced that the trade is agreed upon, and will be finalized on Monday.

This means that Markelle Fultz, the clear best prospect in the class and best point guard prospect overall in a few years, will be a 76er.  The point guard out of the University of Washington averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from three.

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When “The Process” began in 2013, the plan was to do anything possible to acquire high draft picks and hopefully land a potential star.  After two seasons, the team landed the current face of the franchise Joel Embiid, but his debut was delayed two full seasons due to injuries.

Two years later, the ping pong balls blessed Philadelphia with the number one pick.  During the tanking era, after watching embarrassingly bad basketball for three years, this was the equivalent to winning a championship in the eyes of the fans.  It gave the team the ability to draft Ben Simmons, who many scouts have compared his playmaking potential to the likes of LeBron James and Magic Johnson.

After dazzling in the NBA Summer League, Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his foot during training camp.  This held him out of the entire season, which seemed to be a recurring theme of “The Process,” but he has since recovered fully and expectations are still sky high for the young forward.

This prior season, Joel Embiid finally made his long awaited debut, and boy did he shine.  He had 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks in his debut against the Thunder on national television and didn’t slow down at all the rest of the season.  Unfortunately, injuries have been a recurring theme for this team, and Embiid tore his meniscus after playing just 31 games.

In the 31 games Embiid played, he made this team a force to be reckoned with on the defensive side of the basketball.  With Embiid on the court, the 76ers had a terrific defensive rating of 102, and he produced at an elite level as a rim protector.

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On the season, when guarded by Embiid players shot 6.5 percent worse total, 17.8 percent worse at the rim, and 13.5 percent worse in the paint.  For reference, defensive player of the year candidate Rudy Gobert made players shoot 5.1 percent worse total, 12.8 percent worse at the rim, and 10.3 percent worse in the paint.

Add in a premier go-to scorer in Fultz to this core and the future is as bright or brighter than any team in the NBA.  “The Process” has seen some incredibly dark days over the last few years, but its all about to turn around this season.  The rebuild is over and the core is in place.  It is time to start winning games.

The reason why Fultz should elevate the Sixers to contend for the playoffs immediately is because he brings a skill set that was desperately needed and lacking in previous years.  The guard play in Philadelphia has been sub-par at best, with very few players capable of scoring the basketball consistently.

The 76ers have had the worst offense in the entire league each of the last four seasons.  This was a direct result of the team consistently being near the bottom of the league in three point percentage.

Lacking shooters that can space the floor in today’s NBA is a nightmare waiting to happen, and thats exactly what happened during this rebuilding stage.  Markelle Fultz not only can stretch the floor with his 41.3 percent three point percentage, but he has the ability to make difficult shots in the face of adversity.

Having a go-to scorer late in games is what separates the good teams from the great teams.  As seen in this year’s NBA Finals, guards Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry both have the ability to take over games by scoring at will.  The biggest reason why Fultz will fit in on the 76ers is, of course, that he trusts the process.

The reason that the organization is so optimistic about the pairing of Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz is because it is reminiscent of the LeBron James/Kyrie Irving pairing in Cleveland.  James acts as the facilitator of the offense and gets everyone else involved while Irving plays in attack mode from start to finish.

Throw in a 20+ point per game scoring rim protector in Embiid and the blueprint is set for future contention.  If the team can sign a free agent shooting guard like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or J.J. Redick, they will finally have a starting lineup to run with consistently game in and game out.

A starting lineup of Fultz, Caldwell-Pope/Redick, Covington, Simmons, and Embiid with Saric as the sixth man would be talented enough to vie for a playoff spot next season.  The best part about this whole situation is that by the time these players hit their prime, the reign of the Cavaliers and Warriors will more than likely be over.

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Overall, as long as the injury plague has past and everyone stays healthy, the future is bright in Philadelphia.  No longer will the 76ers be the laughing stock of the league, as that title currently belongs to Brooklyn.  The addition of Fultz was the absolute best case scenario for this offseason, and now that it is about to become a reality the team can finally end its rebuild and focus on creating a winning culture.