One of the biggest offseason questions surrounding the 76ers is whether Markelle Fultz will play in the summer league.
“It is something me and Coach haven’t discussed yet,” the rookie point guard said Thursday in a media availability during the team’s exit interviews.
Fultz said his biggest goal is to improve any way he can. He said of summer-league play: “Whatever will help me get better this year, that is all I am looking forward to.”
The Sixers might consider playing last year’s first overall pick in the summer league because he played in only 17 games this season. He played in the first four regular-season games before being sidelined for the next 68 with what the team called a right shoulder injury. However, he actually had serious problems with his shooting, according to several sources. Fultz returned in time for the final 10 games of the season.
T.J. McConnell started in the backcourt alongside point guard Ben Simmons in Games 4 and 5 of the Sixers’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Boston Celtics. Before that, the Sixers had decided to give McConnell the backup point-guard minutes over Fultz.
Fultz played 4 minutes, 21 seconds in the first half of Game 3 of the first-round series against the Miami Heat on April 19. However, McConnell took over the point-guard duties in the second half of what was Fultz’s last playoff game. He had played in the first two games of that series.
When Boston rookie Jayson Tatum torched the Sixers, Fultz’s absence from games drew a lot of attention.
In June, the Sixers moved up two spots to select Fultz first overall in the draft. They got the pick from the Celtics in exchange for their No. 3 pick and a protected pick in 2018 or 2019. Boston ended up taking Tatum third.
Many folks — including Hall of Famer Julius Erving — questioned moving up to draft Fultz.
“I think I’ve been going through stuff like this my whole life,” Fultz said of the criticism he has heard. “… I don’t really look at it. I’m with my team. I’m with my family. That’s all I really care about — and myself.”
Simmons had a subpar series against the Celtics. He scored one point while missing all four of his shots in Game 2. The Sixers also were outscored by 63 points in the series when Simmons was on the floor. They were plus-48 when he didn’t play.
He was asked if this was the first time he has struggled.
“I wouldn’t say struggle,” he said of his performance. “I think we are just learning. They threw something else at us we haven’t seen. They got the best of us, I think, a little bit early on and we responded too late.
“If we would have had the same physicality and aggression we played with the last two, I think it would be a different series. But you learn from it and move on.”