Let's preface this by saying the sample size of what we've seen of 76ers' first-round pick Markelle Fultz is so small it's almost unfair to even cast judgment on what we've seen, but it's what we do. We overreact, positively and negatively, but there can be some insights gained from his first summer league game aginst the Boston Celtics in Salt Lake City on Monday, so here goes.
* The most disturbing aspect of his defensive game was his inability to get back defensively. Too many times, when the ball was turned over or a shot was missed, his first few steps getting back were very slow. Instead of turning and sprinting, Fultz stood up, pivoted slowly, and started his jog down the floor. It appears to be a bad habit — that's all. And a point of emphasis with the Sixers' coaching staff is getting back defensively. This appears to be an energy thing and not something that can't be easily corrected.
* Many times, and this was noticeable when he was at Washington, Fultz centered his attention on the ball when he was an off-ball defender. That led to his losing his man altogether, sometimes to a back door; other times, to a flare-out to a wing. Again, something basic – see ball and man at all times. He seemed eager to make plays defensively, and often times did so with good anticipation. It's just that when he solely focused on that, he lost his man.
* Boston ran Fultz off many picks, and he did a very good job of fighting through them as it appears the coaching staff this summer wants players to fight through on the high side, instead of going under picks. He did a very good job of staying with his man through the picks without losing his tightness to his player.
* There were times Fultz was too erect on defense, instead of being low in his stance. This allowed his player to beat him off the dribble. The cause of this could have been fatigue. If you think about it, his college season ended more than four months ago. With him being labeled the No. 1 pick, no doubt his handlers didn't want him playing much basketball for fear of injury. When the Sixers got him into workouts after the draft, it was probably the first ball he really played in quite some time. Add in the Salt Lake City altitude, and it's understandable.
* Fultz appeared to have very good defensive anticipation. Jumping in passing lanes and seeing a pass before it happens are good qualities. He just can't do it so much that it takes his concentration away from his defensive responsibility.
* He blocked three shots, showing terrific athleticism in doing so. This is good and bad. Weak-side blocks or straight-up blocks on his man are good. Relying on blocking a shot from behind because he got beaten off the dribble isn't.
* Fultz just seemed to exude offensive confidence. No matter where he was on the floor, whether it be shooting, driving or passing, he had a very cool way about him, as if he knew the results are going to be favorable.
* His court vision appeared superb. Whether it was looking down the floor on a break or finding teammates off the dribble, Fultz saw it and delivered it. It might be, along with his shooting, the most exciting aspect of his game when you think of him teamed with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric.
* He was really good at creating off the dribble, which made the defense respect and be aware of him. That easily created openings for others because help was either coming too early, which created passing lanes, or the defender was backing off, which left Fultz open for his smooth jumper.
* One aspect he needs to work on is he sometimes looked uninterested after he gave up the ball. It's a tell to the defense when a play is called for someone else, and he gave the ball up and just kind of faded. That can't be done. He needs to work to an open area, even if it is just as a decoy.
* Fultz seemed to know what his first step was going to be on offense before he touched the ball, and it was always effective. He had catches and drives, catches and shots, catches and jab steps. Each one of them worked really well for him.
* His spin dribble in traffic was tight and under control when he was going full speed. He came out of his spins under control and, again, knowing exactly what he wanted to do out of it.
* His foul shooting at Washington (65 percent) wasn't good, and he appeared to be too stiff when shooting them for the Sixers. His routine seems fine and looks good right up until his release. That's when he stiffened and shot the ball with all arms. He needs to come up through his legs and make it one fluid motion.