Markelle Fultz, amid trade rumors, works out for Sixers

Markelle Fultz, amid trade rumors, works out for Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Markelle Fultz arrived for a pre-draft workout Saturday evening at what could be his home for the foreseeable future.
 
The projected No. 1 pick traveled from Maryland to the Sixers' training complex as trade talks buzzed around the Celtics and Sixers swapping the first and third selections.
 
The two teams have agreed to a deal that will be finalized Monday, four days before the draft, as first reported by TNT’s David Aldridge. According to The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach, the Sixers will send the Celtics this year's No. 3 pick and one protected future first-round pick from the Sixers for the top selection in Thursday's draft (see story).
 
In the midst of all this, Fultz took the court in front of a packed house of Sixers executives, coaches and players, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington. Basketball is about all he can control right now. 
 
“I don't really pay attention to everything that's going on,” Fultz said. “I'm truly blessed to be in this position. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”
 
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Fultz went through individualized drills in the portion of his workout open to the media. He struggled to hit his shots consistently in a three-point exercise. Fultz looked as though perhaps he was affected by the three-hour car ride to Camden, which had been slowed down by traffic and delayed his scheduled start time. Fultz said he didn’t mind the travel, though, and slept during the trip. 
 
“It's almost like AAU, driving out of town,” he said. “Any chance I get an opportunity to (play basketball), I'm going to be excited.”
 
One showing wasn’t going to be enough to deter NBA teams that had watched Fultz average 23.2 points (47.6 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from long range), 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season. He led the Pac-12 in scoring and was first among all freshmen in the nation. 
 
Part of the pre-draft process is for teams to learn about a prospect’s medical history. Fultz sat out five of the last seven games last season because of right knee soreness. He said he is fully recovered. 
 
“My knee is great,” Fultz said. “As you can see, I'm jumping pretty high and everything like that.”
 
Following the workout, Embiid, Simmons and Covington talked with Fultz and posed for a photo. That moment was likely a glimpse into the Sixers' future, one that Fultz easily sees himself fitting into. 
 
“It would be great,” he said. “Get up and down. They're big on defense so I think the tools that I have to be a defensive player I think would help them get out in transition. I'm a pretty good shot blocker for a point guard, so I think helping them with that, everything would pretty much help with that.”

Fultz would be part of an untraditional backcourt with Simmons, wherein the Sixers plan to start a 6-foot-10 point guard. The team has been looking for a guard that can play off the ball in a combo role to complement Simmons, who is more of a facilitator than an outside shooter. 
 
“I play with great players all the time, so whatever he needs me to do,” Fultz said. “If I'm running the floor or I'm setting the screen for him or giving it back, it doesn't matter. I'll be a great teammate.”
 
Fultz already is familiar with Philadelphia, so familiar he named Larry's as his favorite cheesesteak spot. He entered the training complex wearing a Sixers hat to show appreciation for the place he has frequented. Last season, Fultz attended a Sixers home game as part of his own scouting of potential landing spots. 
 
“I saw the team still fighting hard,” he said. “The most important thing was the fans in the building were still there no matter what. That was big. Of course being out there, I could imagine myself on the court, helping the team out for sure. 

"That's what I do every game. I watch, just think about if I was on the team, what could happen?”
 
He will find out when his name is called Thursday. 

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart drafted in 1st round, goes to Lakers; undrafted Kris Jenkins reportedly joins Wizards

Josh Hart heard his name called, while Villanova teammate Kris Jenkins did not.

Hart snuck into the first round of Thursday night's NBA draft, going 30th overall to the Utah Jazz. However, the Wildcat is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, via a trade.

While Jenkins went undrafted, it looks like he'll have a shot with an NBA team. Jenkins will join the Washington Wizards this offseason to compete for a roster spot, according to a report by NBA.com's David Aldridge.

After winning the national title as a junior with Villanova, Hart collected plenty of accolades in a standout senior season. The 6-foot-5 wing was named a consensus first-team All-American, Big East Player of the Year and took home the Julius Erving award as the top small forward in the country.

For the 32-4 Wildcats, Hart, a Silver Spring, Maryland native, averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game, while shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

"I'm my biggest critic," he said last week after a pre-draft workout for the Sixers. "I drive myself as much as I can. I demand perfection from myself."

As Hart travels west, Jenkins, on the other hand, will head home for his NBA opportunity. The 6-foot-6 forward, beloved for his buzzer-beating three-pointer to win Villanova its 2016 national championship, is from Upper Marlboro, Maryland. He worked out for the Wizards in early June. He also worked out for the Sixers on Tuesday.

"It's a blessing," he said after his session with the Wizards, via the Washington Post. "You always root for the hometown team, you always want them to do well. Honestly it's humbling to be in this position, to grow up in this area, to have some games here and play college ball here and then come back and work out for the Wizards."

After flirting with the NBA draft process following their title-winning season, both Hart and Jenkins decided to return to school for their senior campaigns.

They both took to Twitter on Thursday night following the draft — Hart in excitement, Jenkins more in a humorous manner.

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

Sixers 'dug very deep' into Markelle Fultz's perceived weaknesses

CAMDEN, N.J. — You don't have to do much research on Markelle Fultz to find his perceived shortcomings.

Washington finished 9-22 his only season there. Draft experts also questioned his effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

None of that concerned the Sixers when they made him the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft Thursday night (see story).

"One of the weaknesses was, 'Does he bring it every night defensively? Did he have that killer instinct?'" Sixers head coach Brett Brown said following the pick. "I think if you take a high character person and you take an athlete, you have the foundation to coach him to be an elite defender."

There isn't much question about Fultz's offensive game. The 19-year-old guard averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in his only season with the Huskies. He also shot an impressive 41.3 percent from three-point range.

His skill set as a shooter and scorer seems to complement the skills of franchise centerpieces Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. With his selection, president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo is hoping the Sixers can start to build a winning culture.

But does Fultz's nine-win season at Washington concern him at all?

"You look at every aspect of evaluating a prospect," Colangelo said. "We've dug very deep on this and we feel that regardless of whatever the performance of the University of Washington Huskies was last year, it's not relevant to who Markelle represents, what he represents as a player, and how he is going to fit in and help us turn this program around."

Fultz took an interesting path to being the No. 1 pick. He didn't make the varsity team at famed DeMatha High School in Maryland as a sophomore (see story). A growth spurt helped bring more attention to his game.

He chose Washington because of the relationship he had developed with its coaching staff. He also thought he'd have the opportunity to play with sophomores Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray. Instead, both players were surprise one-and-dones and Fultz was forced to carry the team on his shoulders.

"He wasn't always considered the best prospect, but he emerged and earned the right to be the best prospect," Colangelo said. "You're talking about a young man who goes to the University of Washington, didn't have great team success. Unfortunately, part of that may be personnel driven, part of that may be circumstantial.

"To do what he did at the level of the Pac-12 and to be able to average 23 points a game, six rebounds and six assists. You're talking, again, about great performance on the floor, a player that does so many different things and we believe someone that's going to help make his teammates better. "

Colangelo mentioned that Fultz "has the tools" to become an excellent defender. Fultz stands at 6-foot-4 with an impressive 6-foot-10 span. He also has plenty of athleticism and strength to compete defensively against NBA ones and twos.

Brown acknowledged that defense could be the biggest hole in Fultz's game, but feels like he could get the most out of Fultz on the defensive end.

"I think that down deep he understands the knock against him and I believe that when we get him with our program, he understands how we see the world here," Brown said. "It's gonna be an evolution, no doubt. But it's a willing defensive player and it's a willing athlete, a gifted athlete under a roof of a quality person. I think having those types of qualities lets you have a far better chance to mold him into the type of defensive player we need here."