Brett Brown: “I Think Another High Level Free-Agent is Required”
Markelle Fultz might be the biggest question the Sixers need answered this offseason.
What the Sixers have to hope is that Fultz will begin playing like a guy who they traded a future first-round pick and their he No. 3 pick for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft
He didn’t come close in 2017-18.
The problem is, they won't know what they truly have until the step back on the court for the 2018-2019 and by that time it might be to late.
Fultz who came to the Sixers after being the first-overall pick in the 2017 draft, averaged just 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and made 40.5 percent of his field-goal attempts, 0.0 percent of his three-point shots and 47.6 of his free-throw shots this past season.
The playoffs were even worse for the No. 1 overall pick. In just three playoff appearances, Fultz averaged 1.7 points in only 7.7 minutes per game.
Not surprisingly, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo and head coach Brett Brown looked for the positives despite the bizarre nature of Fultz's rookie season.
“I think the shot has come a long way from where he was at the beginning of the season," Colangelo said at at his season-ending press conference on Friday. "We know he can shoot the basketball. It's going to come back fully."
"I want him getting back his mojo," Brown added. "I want him playing basketball again in a competitive environment. I personally hope he plays in summer league."
Fultz's injury issue, followed by his 68 game absence, had many people questioning the Sixers decision to make a trade and draft him over Jayson Tatum, who torched the Sixers in their five-game series. However, Colangelo said the team is not ready to second guess the decision just yet.
"I don't have an ounce of buyers remorse" Colangelo stated on Friday on the decision to trade up and select Markelle Fultz.
The maddening thing about the Fultz’ situation is that there were times that he does showed the ability that would make him an elite player if he could sustain it.
Over the Sixers final 10 games that he appeared in, he score double-figures five times. In the season finale vs Milwaukee, Fultz had 13 points, making 6-of-13 shots from the field and also added 10 rebounds, 10 assists, a block and two steals, making him the youngest NBA player to ever record a triple-double.
The question the Sixers need to ask is did they believe in what they saw from Fultz over those 10 games to consider him the final piece to the puzzle or do they need to go outside the organization to final the final piece.
Brown seemed to be pretty clear, they need more help.
"I think another high level free-agent is required [to win a championship]," Brown admitted. "I think we have the ability to attract one."
"If I were a free agent, i'm biased, if I were to look at how we play, its clear our style of play is exciting and a modern way to play."
The Sixers finished tied for eighth this season in the NBA by shooting 36.9 from three-point range, but their 11 makes and 29.8 attempts were 10th and 12th respectively in the league. The Rockets, by comparison, made 36.2 percent of their three-point shots to tie for 13th in the NBA, but led the league with 15.3 makes and 42.3 attempts per game.
So what kind of high-level free agents would the Sixers be interested in?
"We don't have to turn this into calculus. It's quite clear," Brown said when asked what the current roster is lacking.
One name that has been hinted out is LeBron James, a ball dominate player, much like current Sixer Ben Simmons. Brown hinted that if he was interested in playing for the Sixers, they would find a way to make it work.
"If this player you're describing is great, we'll figure things out," Brown said. "It's as honest and as simple as I can answer that."
They can't control LeBron's decision, they can't control what Paul George is going to do, but they can work to help fix Markelle Fultz and that is the most important thing they need to do.