It’s only the preseason, but Markelle Fultz is showing why he was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Fultz has started the Philadelphia 76ers’ first two preseason games, with JJ Redick coming off the bench. If the move remains permanent as the regular season draws ahead, then the Sixers’ starting backcourt could be bolstered with size and versatility.
At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Fultz is a relatively big shooting guard. And with the 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons running point, the Sixers could have one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league.
In the Sixers’ first two preseason games, Fultz has shown his ability to create shots for himself as well as play defense. The 20-year-old has averaged 13.0 points per game on 48.1 percent shooting. He’s also averaged 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game to this point.
With a rebuilt jumper, Fultz has pulled up from different midrange spots and let jumpers fly with confidence. Though he has mainly seen success from the midrange, his 3-point shot still has room for growth. He made a 3-pointer against the Orlando Magic on Monday, a game the Sixers won 120-114.
Fultz attempted one 3-pointer last season but didn’t make it. If he can develop the confidence to shoot more 3-pointers this upcoming season, his offensive game could expand.
The young guard’s defense is something to note as well. He had a chase down block against D.J. Kennedy when the Sixers defeated Melbourne United in the opener. He also blocked Magic guard D.J. Augustin, who used a ball screen from Nikola Vucevic to create space for a layup.
Last season Fultz played in 14 games due to a shoulder injury he dealt with for the bulk of the year. Now, he not only looks healthy but seems to have a legitimate chance to start, too.
The regular season hasn’t started, but with the way Fultz has played so far this preseason, the Sixers have reason to be optimistic about how he’ll impact the franchise.