NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
Markelle Fultz has a jump shot (finally), but even with the renewed ability to shoot, Fultz is creating a large problem for the 76ers. Philly had hoped that Markelle would finally complete their trio of stars, but so far it's been anything but issues.
Markelle was a monster in college and there's no arguing that; a scoring monster who would be the elite back court player to compliment Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Sadly Fultz is still obviously hampered by his shoulder injury as he's very timid to shoot from behind the arc, in fact he's turning down most shots outside of 15 feet. The modern NBA is so perimeter scoring driven that to be a guard, a former top 3 pick nonetheless, without the ability to score from deep is a recipe for disaster.
Fultz's inability to score (still) wouldn't be as large of an issue if Philly had more perimeter scoring. Unfortunately for Philly they lost perimeter scoring this offseason and outside of Wilson Chandler, they didn't add much to replace that lost depth. The largest offseason addition really was a healthy Markelle Fultz.
There aren't really many optimistic options for Philly. This team is still young yes, but they're built to compete with two already established stars; the lack of a third option is what would take this team from “pretender” to “contender.”
The 76ers could let Fultz ride it out and hope (pray) that he turns into the player they expected him to be when he was drafted. Really there isn't much of a choice since Fultz has little to no trade value due to his injury and rookie contract. Philly could turn down his 3rd and 4th year options and release him, but that would look horrible for them as a team seeing how much they gave up to get him.
Philadelphia should explore the trade market and there's a perfect scoring point guard fit down in Charlotte. While Kemba Walker has vocally committed to the Hornets, it might not be a mutual feeling. If Philly plays their cards right, they could not only trade for Kemba Walker, they could sign him to a max when he's eligible and still sign another all star. The Hornets would probably demand a treasure chest in return for Kemba, but it's something Philly should definitely consider.
There aren't many clear cut roads to Philly getting better and reclaiming a top east spot, but it's still early in the season. Markelle could still surprise us all and become an elite player or he could continue to falter; if the latter occurs, Philly will be forced to make a tough choice sooner rather than later.