LAS VEGAS – Markelle Fultz’s next assignment will be a blend of learning how to be a pro, and perfecting his craft.
The 76ers’ No. 1 overall pick can do a little bit of everything, right now. He shoots the ball well. He handles the ball well. He can play in the pick-and-roll.
He just needs to perfect his craft to make sure he’s prepared for this season’s obstacles as opposed to just relying on his natural abilities.
Perfecting his craft will enable him to relax when an extra defender pops out on him. It will also enable him to hold his own against grown men with brute NBA bodies, and it would prepare him to be able to consistently shoot three-pointers regardless of what defenders do against pick-and-rolls.
“You just want to take what you want and perfect it,” said Sixers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce, “Everything is tighter. Everything is bit sharper and less margin of error.”
So that’s what the point guard’s offseason workouts will consist of now that the Sixers’ NBA Summer League ended Friday.
Even though his in-game action was cut short on July 8, the Sixers know Fultz is NBA ready. That’s why they traded up two spots to No. 1 and surrendered a future asset to the Boston Celtics to select him in the June 22 draft.
It’s hard to argue that the Sixers gave up too much in trading for Fultz based on his performances in the Utah Jazz Summer League on July 3 and 5. He averaged 20 points, 3.5 rebounds, three assists, 1.5 blocks, five turnovers, 24.5 minutes, and shot 46.1 percent on three-pointers.
The 19-year-old had hoped to show improvement on defense and commit fewer turnovers in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
However, he’ll have to wait until the preseason after suffering a lateral sprain in his left ankle during the July 8 opener against the Golden State Warriors. While Fultz is fine, the Sixers opted to shut him down from game action for the rest of the summer schedule.
“Now his focus is, take what you have and master it,” Pierce said. “Ray Allen is the guy that you always think about who has perfected his craft. He’s done the same thing the same way for years. That’s why he’s our best NBA career three-point shooter [with 2,973 made over 18 seasons].”
Following in the footsteps of tireless workers like former NBA star Allen is how Fultz will learn how to become a professional. He will have two examples this season in free agent additions and hard workers J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson.
Fultz’s being a coachable player has stood out to the Sixers, thus far. He has been taking in all of their instructions and isn’t opposed to being coached hard.
His ability to be fit in with everyone from cornerstones Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to undrafted summer leaguers Isaiah Briscoe and James Blackmon Jr. haven’t gone unnoticed.
“He’s one of the guys,” Pierce said. “He buys into the team. He buys into what we are teaching him as coaches, as well.”
Now, the Sixers want him back in the gym, perfecting his game. That shouldn’t be a problem for someone known for his work ethic and basically living in the gym.
So this should be an enjoyable assignment.