Markelle Fultz played his first professional basketball game Monday night in the Sixers Summer League game. He was impressive. His debut couldn’t have gone much better. He was everything I’ve previously written he was, after watching almost a dozen of his University of Washington game. He finished with 17 points, 3 blocks, and 4 turnovers in 22 minutes of action.
To summarize, he was good, not great. I may have missed some things as I was a couple of pints deep at the pub while watching, but here are the PROS/CONS I made notes of.
-Fultz showed his smooth stroke whenever he got a clean look at the basket, especially working off screens. Give the kid an open look and he’s gonna hit it. The kid is a shooter.
-Solid help defense on a couple of plays that led to some blocks.
-He’s crafty. Fultz displayed an arsenal of hesitation, ball and body fakes, spin moves, and misdirection to penetrate into the lane and get to the basket.
-Demonstrated decent court vision on the break with a couple of nice passes.
-Not a lot movement without the ball
-Struggled with contested shots.
-Got hung up in the lane a few times and either made awkward passes or put up a bad shot.
-While he got the rim with his crafty play, he failed to finish more than not.
-Lack of intensity on defense or getting back on defense after a rebound or turnover, aside from a couple of nice weak-side blocks. Too often, for my liking, he was one of the last Sixers back on defense. On this play, center Kaleb Tarczewski beats Fultz back.
-Did not look quick when matched up against Jaylen Brown on either end.
-Often caught standing straight up on defense causing him to be a little slow to close out or contest shots.
You can’t ask for much better in a kid’s NBA Summer League debut. Fultz is a shooter. That’s what made him #1 on Colangelo’s board and atop most Sixers fans’ wishlist. Fultz showed that he’s got the stroke.
As in Washington, there were far too many times where he looked disinterested on the defensive end, but that’s not why the Sixers drafted him. He’s here to score and Fultz displayed an ability to knock down a catch-and-shot, as well as off a screen. He did struggle with contested shots. That’s a concern as the regular season NBA rosters will be quicker than many of the Summer League rosters. That increased athleticism may make for Fultz encountering a greater number of contested shots. Hopefully, he’ll improve.
Everything considered, Fultz’s debut was good, not great. Most of the defensive issues are just effort and that should be easy to improve upon. The kid is gonna be a player.