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Markelle Fultz Says 76ers Are Playoff Team After Being Picked No. 1 in NBA Draft

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 23:  The Philadelphia 76ers host a post draft press conference announcing new players Anzejs Pasecniks, Markelle Fultz, Jonah Bolden and Mathias Lessort at the Sixers Training Complex on June 23, 2017 in Camden, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant /NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Markelle Fultz hasn't been a member of the Philadelphia 76ers for 24 hours yet, but he's already setting the bar high in advance of his rookie season.  

Addressing reporters at the team's practice facility in Camden, New Jersey, on Friday, Fultz said he thinks the Sixers can be a playoff team by the time the spring of 2018 rolls around. 

"I am serious when I say that," the No. 1 overall pick said, according to ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk. "That is not just me talking because I am a player. I really think that we can be a [playoff team]."

The Sixers are currently in the midst of a five-year playoff drought, and they haven't topped 30 wins since the 2012-13 campaign. 

However, a core of Fultz, Joel Embiid and 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons has the potential to vault the Sixers up the Eastern Conference standings in expedient fashion. 

Although there will be an extended acclimation process as Fultz and Simmons—who missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury—become familiar with the pro game, Embiid's rookie season suggested the Sixers are on the right track—especially on defense. 

Last season, the Sixers posted a defensive rating of 99.1 with Embiid on the floor, a mark that was nearly two points better than the San Antonio Spursleague-leading mark of 100.9. 

With the big man anchoring Philadelphia on both ends and Fultz and Simmons poised to wreak havoc in the pick-and-roll, it's not inconceivable to think the Sixers could make a run at a playoff spot in a wide-open Eastern Conference. 

Stats courtesy of NBA.com

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