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Utah Summer League Recap: Markelle Fultz’s fourth-quarter flurry is what he was brought here to do

This is why they traded up to No. 1.

Credit: @Sixers on Twitter

Two days after Markelle Fultz made his highly-anticipated debut, the summer Sixers got a nice addition to the lineup in the form of Furkan Korkmaz. Unfortunately, the newness of the group showed, and the Sixers struggled to get into any sort of rhythm all night. That is, until Fultz turned it on down the stretch, and nearly pulled the team out of a significant hole in the fourth quarter.

As on night one, Fultz showed you plenty of flashes of what could be. He breezed by Exum on the game’s first play—the drive got erased by a foul away from the ball—hit a nice teardrop floater over a couple defenders, and just over halfway through the first, he showed the type of advanced offensive move that wowed scouts when he was in college.

The other big encouraging sign was his offensive activity without the ball in his hand. It doesn’t make for the type of material people cut up into clips and upload to Twitter, but Fultz showed some smart movement to slide into open space without the ball. It led to a couple made threes off passes from teammates, and were he playing with more talented playmakers, he would have gotten a couple more easy looks.

It wasn’t all peachy for Fultz, though, and he got caught napping on a few occasions on defense, and Dante Exum took advantage. Exum is super experienced for Summer League, but he’s also well below the caliber of guard you’re going to see Fultz dealing with on a nightly basis starting this fall. He can’t rely entirely on Joel Embiid bailing him out on the back-end, and has to clean up decision-making on that end.

Aside from that, I think a lot of the instant reactions to his second game were a little much. Once people saw him hoist an airball in the second quarter, the “he looks tired” police were out in full force.

Just one man’s opinion, but it looked more like he was just finding his way in the offense. The Sixers ran a lot of motion sets rather than putting Fultz through a gauntlet of pick-and-rolls, so he rarely had an opportunity to get a head of steam going. When he did have a chance to on one play at the end of the first half, he hit a cutting Alex Poythress in the hands after the defense collapsed on Fultz’s drive. Poythress never even got a shot up.

And with his play in the fourth quarter, it seems odd to suggest Fultz was fatigued in the first; that’s not a problem that improves as the game goes on. His demeanor and the ease with which he can cut through defenses are not necessarily in sync, and you should get used to him carving teams up without showing much emotion.

How many young guards can do stuff like this and make it look so smooth? Very few.

The final line: 23 points, five boards, five assists on 9/16 shooting, with two of his misses coming on half-court heaves at the end of each half. His shot looks good (four of eight from deep!), the skill level is apparent, and that’s really all that matters right now.

Fultz will likely get the night off tomorrow night, and it’ll give him some time to get ready for Vegas. Hopefully the Sixers settle into a better understanding with more practice together, because they have an alpha dog who can show them the way.

Other notes from the game

Jonah Bolden is playing his ass off

This is the guy who should be the starting big man on the Summer League squad, and it is obvious to just about everyone tuning in. Bolden has been a little quick on the trigger from the outside, but he is doing everything you could ask from a big man otherwise.

The highlights have just been a product of his overall energy. He created several second-chance opportunities, and on one play in particular, he caught a rebound and fired a pass to an open Brandon Austin in the corner all in one motion. Would be nice to see him get as much time with Fultz as possible, because...

Kaleb Tarczewski is horrendous

If I have to watch this guy play another minute of basketball—let alone one with Markelle Fultz on the floor—I may have to cover a different sport altogether. Offered no resistance on defense, set screens that make Spencer Hawes look like Rick Mahorn, and calling him a giraffe on ice skates in the post would be an insult to the giraffe.

Bolden should be the big-man starter in Summer League. End this.

TLC’s handle looks good!

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot hasn’t exactly shot the lights out in Utah, but the one encouraging thing has been his handle in tight spaces. His success going to the hoop (when he’s had it) has come mostly from cuts and straight-line drives, and adding some shake would be a pretty big development.

Nobody is expecting him to shoulder the load on offense, but some minor playmaking ability would be nice.

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