What a night it was for the young Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center on Monday night. Not only did they defeat the Denver Nuggets, they also welcomed back their 2017 #1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz. The 6’4 guard checked into the game with 2:54 left in the 1st quarter and logged 14 minutes in his first game since October 23rd.
I sat there watching the game nervously. I can’t even imagine how he felt. I’m sure those butterflies quickly went away once the fans gave him one of his many standing ovations on the night. This kid has been ridiculed and made fun of for months, so for the fans to get behind him like that must have felt great.
If he was nervous, you sure as hell couldn’t tell. He went out there and seemed cool as a cucumber running the offense. He tallied 10 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists on 5/13 shooting. He was a +16 for the game.
After shaking off the rust in the first half, he really came into his own in the second half and looked a lot more comfortable. A lot of people forget that this is the third youngest player in the NBA. 10 years from now, he won’t even be 30. That’s insane to think about. So, it will be fun to see him improve over the last nine games and in the playoffs. He can go into next year with a clear head and no pressure. He has all the tools and is fast as lightning. In my opinion, too many people don’t realize how good this guy is going to be. I can’t wait to see how his career with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid unfolds.
Fun fact: according to the basketball reference database, Fultz is the first player in NBA history with 10 points and 8 assists in less than 14 minutes.
Written by: Dan McGuckin