Well, it’s pretty much official — this is the most lit week in NBA history. We’ve got big names and young talents and assets on the move like it’s nothing, and top names all across the league being mentioned in trade rumors. This is going to be one fun draft, and you can catch all the rumors and live reaction on DraftKings’ Facebook Live TONIGHT starting at 6:30 PM EST.
This NBA mock draft series will be broken down into five parts — picks 7-10, picks 4-6, and then individual features on the No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 overall picks. Each article will give a breakdown on the players I project will be drafted in that spot, as well as what their fantasy outlook would be if they were drafted in that position. The Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock!
With the 1st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select …
Markelle Fultz, Combo Guard, Washington (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 23.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, 41.3% 3-point FG
I love this trade for both teams. The Celtics don’t view Fultz as the top prospect in this draft and created an extra asset (in 2018 or 2019) to drop from No. 1 to No. 3 and still potentially get the player they’ve been targeting (pending any followup moves).
On the other hand, Philly has been “trusting the process” forever now, and it’s about time they start putting real players on the court together. With Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric in place, Joel Embiid looking healthy, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons ready to debut, the 76ers clearly need a versatile guard to go with all that size. Fultz is just that, and he’s going to be a perfect fit in Philly.
Fultz is a 6’4” do-it-all combo guard with elite athleticism and leaping ability to go with his 6’10” wingspan. The James Harden comparisons certainly carry some weight. Fultz can handle the ball, change his speeds, score off the dribble, score in transition, shoot from the mid-range and downtown, all while still finding the time to set up his teammates. If you’re looking for a hole in his offensive game, there isn’t one. That’s why Fultz is perceived as a can’t miss prospect.
Markelle also has all the tools to be successful defensively. His athleticism, size and speed make him a very capable stopper. He gets out into the passing lanes for steals, leading to transition, and he also rebounds the ball very well for his size. There are questions, though.
Although he doesn’t have a hole in his game mechanically, Fultz’s motor, defensive effort and non-winning mentality can stand out at times. If he locks in, everything is there, but Fultz just doesn’t always look like he’s trying on defense, which leads to getting burned by far inferior athletes. And despite his fantastic vision, he also can get lazy passing the ball, often leading to unnecessary turnovers.
The other knock on him is his 9-22 record at Washington (2-16 vs. the PAC-12). Although it’s not totally his fault, you’d think a talent like this would find a way to win more. Although you’ll hear the argument that Simmons didn’t lead his LSU team to the tournament two seasons ago either, you’ll also notice he still managed a winning record. Fultz turned down scholarships to Kentucky-type schools, and it would’ve been nice to see what he could’ve done on that level. He’d still be an elite prospect in this draft, but No. 1?
I’m of the uncommon opinion the gap between No. 1 and the next 2-3 players in this draft isn’t as much as the hype would tell you. And that said, I’m not talking down this player. I’m talking up the other players. That said, Fultz is the best NBA prospect of the group. He is built for the transition game and getting to the rim in crafty ways with elite finishing ability.
With Simmons rumored to be the team’s PG, Fultz’s size and combo guard ability is as ideal as you could imagine. He’s the perfect fit for what the Sixers have in place thus far.
The way things look right now, there are no veterans in sight to slow these kids down. We just saw Embiid put up elite fantasy numbers when he was available to play, as did Saric as a rookie. All these kids will be playing together next season, but both Simmons and Fultz should be major fantasy contributors. It won’t be pretty at first, but once they find their way, this is going to be a very interesting fantasy outlook in Philly.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.