NBA.com released its annual GM Survey asking questions about the league and aggregating their predictions for the season. These surveys haven’t proven to be predictive in the past, but they do provide a glimpse into the minds of the people most responsible for shaping the NBA landscape.
The big Sixers-related news is a lack of faith in Markelle Fultz. Lonzo Ball was overwhelming chosen as the favorite to receive ROY honors, receiving 62% of the votes cast. Ben Simmons was second, at 24%, and Dennis Smith received the third most votes.
You’ll notice a glaring omission here— the #1 pick from this June’s draft did not receive a single vote.
On the one hand, this makes some sense. Fultz will be joining a team that expects Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to shoulder a lot of the balhandling and creation responsibility, and it will reduce his role somewhat, preventing him from putting up the kind of gaudy counting numbers that traditionally lead to end-of-season awards buzz.
But this is the continuation of a longer trend in which the league and its journalists seem progressively more and more pessimistic about Markelle Fultz. This has been evident in much of the Sixers’ coverage leading up to the season. A narrative has developed in which Fultz cannot shoot (it was a strength of his at Washington), and concern trolling about his immaturity has run rampant of late.
Many Sixers’ fans have done a good job keeping expectations grounded for Fultz; he’s going to be one of the youngest players in the league this season and will see a notable increase in difficulty. Rookies tend to struggle, and that applies to Fultz as much as anyone else.
But he’s still the same guy who ran the table from November until the draft as DraftExpress’s top ranked prospect, and topped Chad Ford’s board for about the same amount of time. He still has distinguished balance and body control, a light, feathery touch on the ball, and a high BBIQ that allows him to make reads lesser players are incapable of.
While the modifications to his shooting stroke are a strange story, he was outstanding off the dribble, in the midrange, and from deep during his time at Washington.
All of which is to say... #THEYSLEEP.
To be fair to the GM’s, Fultz was their second choice for the question, “Which rookie will be the best player in 5 years?” behind only Josh Jackson, and tied with Jayson Tatum.
In other Philadelphia news, Ben Simmons received votes in both rookie categories as well, finishing 4th in the “5 years” question.
The Sixers were selected second, behind Minnesota, for the team that will show the most improvement, and JJ Redick was also chosen second for “Best Off-Ball Movement.”