- Markelle Fultz made his first career three-pointer at the Sixers home opener on Thursday night.
- The Philadelphia crowd erupted after the make, as Fultz had spent much of the 2017-18 season away from the team as he struggled with his shooting.
- Should Fultz’s shot continue to improve, he could play a vital role in the Sixers’ fortunes this year.
The Philadelphia 76ers won their home opener on Thursday night, defeating the Chicago Bulls 127-108.
While Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons led the way statistically for the Sixers, Embiid with 30 points and 12 rebounds and Simmons with a triple-double, it was sophomore guard Markelle Fultz who brought the most joy to Philadelphia fans.
While Fultz finished the night making just 5-of-15 shots from the floor, the mood in the arena was electric when he hit. A made jumper in the second quarter does not usually prompt a standing ovation, but with Fultz, the crowd was eager to show their love.
Markelle Fultz hit a jumper and literally brought the crowd to its feet. I love it. pic.twitter.com/Fw1etM6hNO
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) October 19, 2018
The first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, expectations were high when Fultz came to Philadelphia, but rather than make the immediate impact the Sixers had hoped for, Fultz instead endured a bizarre season that saw him forget how to shoot.
The Sixers had been used to waiting a year for their top picks to recover from injury, but Fultz’s apparent case of the yips was new even to them. Fultz worked through it and was able to help the Sixers down the stretch as they finished the season on a 16-game winning streak.
Through the offseason, Fultz continued to work on his shot, and on Thursday night, Sixers fans got their first in-person look at his progress.
The biggest moment of Fultz’s night came in the fourth quarter.
With the Sixers holding a comfortable lead, Fultz pulled up from beyond the arc and drilled his first career NBA three-pointer. The shot extended the Sixers lead to 20, but by the sound of the crowd, you might have guessed it was a game-winner.
Man, I did not think we'd see a made pull-up 3 from Markelle Fultz, but that's more like it! pic.twitter.com/I9Dy6bmjdk
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) October 19, 2018
Fultz’s night was far from spectacular, but it’s clear that the Philadelphia crowd is behind him through the whole, for lack of a better term, process.
When the Sixers traded up for the first overall pick in 2017 to take Fultz, it felt that a franchise was turning a page – the days of tanking for picks were over, it was time to win.
For much of the season, it felt as if the Sixers had a Markelle Fultz-sized hole in their lineup – a creative player that could find his shot, work the pick and roll with Embiid, and be a threat from the outside to spread the floor and open up even more space for Simmons’ creativity.
With Fultz back this year, the Sixers are hoping he can grow into that role as the pieces of The Process finally find their rhythm together. If they do, Philadelphia could become even more dangerous than teams around the league expected.
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