While the notion that point guards take time to develop is true, Markelle Fultz has all the tools indicative of somebody who can excel from day one with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 2017 NBA could take a massive turn in the coming days, as reported talks between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celitcs in regards to the top overall selection have continued simmering. Markelle Fultz worked out with the Sixers Saturday, while a number of seemingly coincidental occurrences continue to stoke the flames that have currently engulfed the rumor mill.
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Regardless of how many future picks the Sixers may need to part with, the overarching consensus here is relatively simple — Fultz is a net positive. He’s not only the best point guard prospect since Kyrie Irving, but has the potential to be one of the best propsects overall entering the league over the past few seasons. He has the on-court production and physical tools needed to back up the hype as well, while his personality seems well-suited to the NBA grind.
Perhaps the best attribute Fultz boasts, though, is his ability to produce at a high level from day one.
That may not seem like an abnormality — especially for the first overall pick — but when you look at the general trends of young point guards, it’s far from common. Point guards are game managers, meaning they need to run an offense while orchestrating a team’s pace on that side of the ball. When upping the systematic difficulty from collegiate to professional basketball, while also introducing them to new teammates and an entirely different lifestyle, the adjustment periods can be long and arduous.
Take Mike Conley for an example. Last season was his first year averaging over 20 points per contest, reaching that milestone at 29 while on the front end of the largest contract in NBA history. He didn’t eclipse 15 points per game until he was 26.
Kyle Lowry — a potential free agency target for the Sixers — followed a similar timeline. Last year was his first season averaging over 20 points per contest, doing so at 29 years of age. His first season averaging over 15 didn’t come until he was 27.
Point guards take on a larger, more complex role than other positions, and thus their developmental curve typically stretches over a longer period of time than your typical wings and bigs. Fultz, however, has all the signs of somebody who can be an exception to that general rule of prospect evaluation. When you consider how well his offensive game fits within the Sixers’ mold, it becomes even more promising.