It’s Markelle Fultz’s turn to compete for a national title

CAMDEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Markelle Fultz
CAMDEN, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Markelle Fultz /

Markelle Fultz plays for the Philadelphia 76ers. Two former Washington Huskies Sidney Jones IV and Elijah Qualls earned rookie Super Bowl rings with the Eagles as rookies. Can Markelle Fultz perform a similar rookie-to-riches achievement in the NBA?

The Philadelphia 76ers selected Washington Huskies Markelle Fultz with the first overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.  At that time, Fultz knew that he followed former Huskies Sidney Jones IV and Elijah Qualls to Philadelphia. Both Jones and Qualls landed with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2017 NFL Draft, and neither expected to relish in any post-season success in their rookie seasons.

The 2017 season for the Philadelphia Eagles turned far better than anyone might have hoped for, as the Eagles claimed the victory in Super Bowl LII.  As a result, both Jones and Qualls earned a SB ring as rookies. Now, Markelle Fultz holds an opportunity for a shot at a national title.

Atypical rookie season

This hasn’t exactly been the type of NBA season Markelle Fultz expected as an NBA rookie. Out of 81 possible games, Fultz has appeared in just 13 so far. While he is shooting a very promising 39.8 percent from the floor, he has not done much from the three-point line. Still, averaging just 17.5 minutes, he is a solid producer – with 6.7 points, 3.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds, 0.2 blocks, and 0.8 blocks.

In a “per 36 mins”, he’s putting up very solid numbers. But for now, he’s playing behind 76ers point guard Ben Simmons. As a result, and he’s coming off the bench as the second wave point guard.  All in all, the 76ers are allowing Fultz to ease into the NBA at the pace he is most comfortable with.  Unlike Qualls or Jones, Fultz has never played in the NCAA postseason tournaments.  As such, this is all new to him.  But the Philadelphia 76ers have been very patient and deliberate in moving Fultz along.

Can Philadelphia 76ers win an NBA Championship?

The Philadelphia 76ers have won 15 games in a row. As such, they are the hottest team in the NBA today. That opens all possibilities. Of course, winning in the playoffs is far more difficult than winning in the regular season. But winning 15 games in a row is awfully difficult to do as well. And without Joel Embiid, these 76ers have managed to do just that.

Certainly Markelle Fultz’s return is a contributor to that success. He has added spark and uptempo to the reserves. With him on the court, the perimeter shooting of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova are much more accurate. The team gets the looks they want in the game.

Playoffs? We’re talking about playoffs?

Right now, the Philadelphia 76ers are the 3-seed. They will have a best of seven against the NBA Eastern Conference 6-seed. Following that they will face the winner of the 2-seed versus 7-seed in a best of seven series. Advancing again, they will play in the Eastern Conference finals in a best of seven. Should they advance one more time, they will meet their opponent for the NBA Championship.

Next: Will any Washington Basketball players enter the 2018 NBA Draft?

While the Philadelphia 76ers are not to the playoffs yet, they will enter the playoffs on the crest of no less than a 15 game winning streak. Win 16 playoff games, and they walk away with an NBA Championship. Nobody saw the Philadelphia Eagles as favorites in any of their playoff games. Perhaps the underdog role will serve the Philadelphia 76ers just as favorable. Markelle Fultz hopes so. Winning an NBA Championship as a rookie is something few NBA players can ever claim.