Markelle Fultz Says 76ers Are Playoff Team After Being Picked No. 1 in NBA Draft

Markelle Fultz hasn’t been a member of the Philadelphia 76ers for 24 hours yet, but he’s already setting the bar high in advance of his rookie season.  

Addressing reporters at the team’s practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, on Friday, Fultz said he thinks the Sixers can be a playoff team by the time the spring of 2018 rolls around. 

“I am serious when I say that,” the No. 1 overall pick said, according to ESPN.com’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “That is not just me talking because I am a player. I really think that we can be a [playoff team].”

The Sixers are currently in the midst of a five-year playoff drought, and they haven’t topped 30 wins since the 2012-13 campaign. 

However, a core of Fultz, Joel Embiid and 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has the potential to vault the Sixers up the Eastern Conference standings in expedient fashion. 

Although there will be an extended acclimation process as Fultz and Simmons—who missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury—become familiar with the pro game, Embiid’s rookie season suggested the Sixers are on the right track—especially on defense. 

Last season, the Sixers posted a defensive rating of 99.1 with Embiid on the floor, a mark that was nearly two points better than the San Antonio Spurs‘ league-leading mark of 100.9. 

With the big man anchoring Philadelphia on both ends and Fultz and Simmons poised to wreak havoc in the pick-and-roll, it’s not inconceivable to think the Sixers could make a run at a playoff spot in a wide-open Eastern Conference. 

 

Stats courtesy of NBA.com

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