University of Washington combo guard Markelle Fultz (second from right), the likely No. 1 pick in Thursday night's 2017 NBA Draft, poses for a picture Saturday night after working out with, from left, Robert Covington, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Got no issue with the trade.
Got no issue with it resulting in the drafting of Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
Even got no issue with it requiring the 76ers to get in bed with the hated Boston Celtics in order to make it all happen.
No matter the cost in future considerations.
Really, truly, only got one issue with the whole thing … and it seems to be a developing situation not only within the confines of the team’s front office but throughout the Delaware Valley and Sixers Nation everywhere.
That being: the subtle, but still shocking, devaluation of Ben Simmons.
Not for nothing, people, but there is, and still will be only one potentially transcendent player on the Your Team, Your Town, Your 76ers’ roster once things become official on the Fultz trade/selection front … and it ain’t gonna be the new guy or that Joel Embiid guy.
It is amazing how that seems to escape the entire Philly pro hoops following community anymore.
Embiid as The Process … huh? Yo, the social media star has serious tools, but even his staunchest supporters have known in their guts from Day One that with his health history Embiid was living each day on an NBA court on borrowed time.
The genesis for departed GM/self-proclaimed revolutionary Sam Hinkie’s process to reinvent the franchise was centered around acquiring one piece, one talent, one guy – Simmons. Yeah, yeah, assets, assets, assets, gotta stockpile those assets. Welcome to Sam’s Shell Game.
Simmons always was the goal for Hinkie. The once-in-a-lifetime player – possibly – who showed enough for the visionary among us to believe, or dream, that he could lead the Sixers not just to prominence, but prosperity, and, more important, relevancy. In town and abroad.
The danger, if it can be called that, in drafting a guy this coming Thursday who may lessen the impact of Simmons simply because he’ll take some of the ball-handling responsibility away from last year’s No. 1 pick is that we’ll be looking at a watered-down product.
It’s not that we’re going to get too much of a good thing. It’s that we’re never going to get what Simmons may have offered.
No offense to the tape measure-challenged, but it really is more fascinating to see a 6-foot-10 guy lead a fastbreak or run an offense from inbounds pass to basket than, say, someone 6-3 or 6-4 doing that – especially in slower fashion. The anomaly factor … factors.
In fan interest. In star power.
It just does.
Fultz? Hell, he’s a terrific talent. If you have any concerns, check out some YouTube videos. All highlight packages of players spin a positive tale. But the kid has elite body control – some of his attack-the-rack antics are absolutely unreal – and he can really shoot if from the floor, and distance, and he displays some serious cojones on the court.
But his playmaking ain’t anywhere near what Simmons can do. He lacks the vision and the innate “think outside the box and be super smooth with it” ability the big fella has. He also ain’t exactly lickety split out there … and will be expected to play a position – either the point or shooting guard – that kinda requires him to be a lot of the time.
If Bryan Colangelo and Co. are thinking this move erases any defensive concerns that may have arisen with Simmons sometimes getting locked into guarding smaller, quicker guys, they’re going off faulty reasoning. Fultz doesn’t display the footwork on that end of the floor to be anything more than passable.
Thing is, not against the Sixers choosing Fultz. He brings a lot of offensive firepower to the equation.
It’s fearing that choosing him will cause their further diminishing of what Simmons could be.