Markelle Fultz needs a perimeter jumper to play next to Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Fans want to see Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons play together, but the Philadelphia 76ers might not be able to do that — yet.

This week got off to an overwhelmingly positive start for the Philadelphia 76ers. They’re rolling (again) and have a chance to jump into the third seed tonight, a position nobody thought they’d be in when the season began.

On top of that, Markelle Fultz returned to action Monday night and looked *pauses for dramatic effect* really good. In just 14 minutes, he got up plenty of shots and made some gorgeous passes en route to 10 points and eight assists. His only turnover came on his first possession, which is impressive considering the circumstances.

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Fultz showed off the talent that made him the consensus No. 1 pick. He’s a shifty ball handler, underrated athlete, and crafty finisher, allowing him to break down defenses and generate offense regardless of where his shot stands.

He even knocked down a couple pull-ups in the fourth quarter, with his rhythm jumpers creaping closer to where they were at Washington.

We haven’t seen him take a three, though, and I’m not sure how close he is to doing that. We’ve seen video of Fultz knocking down perimeter shots in practice, but his release is slow and he might not be ready to do that in-game.

That leads us to Ben Simmons and where Fultz fits into the picture alongside the Rookie of the Year favorite. Fultz only saw the court when Simmons sat during Monday night’s win over Denver, and his role may be limited to that until he can pose a semi-reliable threat from deep.

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The Sixers’ offense relies heavily on spacing. Fultz’s playmaking is a valuable asset, but it’d be tough to maximize both him and Simmons at the same time. That’d be two players defenses can play off of, packing the paint and making things difficult for others on the floor.

Especially in the playoffs, giving the opposing defense that kind of advantage could limit the Sixers’ success. Both Fultz and Simmons are smart players who can move off the ball and make high-level passes, but their lack of shooting — at least right now — hinders their ability to co-exist.

If Brett Brown surrounded them with three other shooters (Ersan Ilyasova, Dario Saric, J.J. Redick?), there’s a chance they could find ways to produce in spurts. It’s just too big a risk, especially down the stretch, to make it a significant part of the Sixers’ game plan.

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We might have to wait until next season, after Fultz has another summer to get comfortable with his shot, before we see the Sixers’ two top picks sharing the court.