The simplest argument for bringing back Markelle Fultz this season is that the Sixers need him. Or, more accurately, they need the guy he was supposed to be. There are moments when the argument for shutting him down makes a lot of sense. Nearly five months after their No. 1 overall pick last dressed for a game, the Sixers can’t find anything to say about the situation except the same vague ambiguities they’ve been repeating throughout. Since October, the company line has not wavered: He’ll be back when he’s ready. And that raises the question: If he isn’t ready yet after five months of trying, what makes anybody think there is enough time left in the season for him to establish himself as a viable member of a playoff rotation? Wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to just acknowledge the inevitable, take the pressure off the kid, and let Brett Brown focus on figuring out how to win a seven-game series with the roster he’ll have at his disposal? Brown himself gave a nod to this reality on Friday evening when he acknowledged that, at some point in the near future, the organization would have to make a decision about Fultz’s availability for the rest of this season. “We speak internally, but we really haven’t set a hard date, X amount of games, X games,” Brown said. “We’re letting this thing sort of play out. I do understand, we understand, that at some point very soon some final decisions will have to be made.” Yet Brown also acknowledged something that has been evident ever since Fultz stepped away from the court to focus his energy on fixing his broken shot. As good as the Sixers have played since Christmas, they remain a team that lacks a specific sort of offensive dimension that always seems to increase in importance once the playoffs arrive. They are not an isolation team, and they never will be, but there are plenty of stretches during a basketball game when it helps to have a guy who can create his own shot. We’ve seen examples of it throughout the second half of this season, stretches like the second quarter on Friday night, which featured a six-minute block in which the Sixers failed to score a point. It’s probably not a coincidence that Ben Simmons was on the bench for half of that stretch. He’d spent much of the first quarter attacking the paint with his dribble, scoring six of his 21 points in the game’s opening minutes. But Simmons remains most comfortable when he is looking to pass. And, besides, teams adjust.
If Sixers' Markelle Fultz is ready to return from injury, Brett Brown should be able to play him
Philly.com | Mar 19