Brett Brown Says Markelle Fultz Will 'Have a Hell of a Year' Amid Trade Rumors

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers' Markelle Fultz in action during an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown is confident second-year point guard Markelle Fultz will bounce back after a shoulder injury and shooting woes derailed his rookie season.

On Monday, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated provided comments Brown made about Fultz, who Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported was available for trade during the 2018 NBA draft.

"I have tremendous optimism and confidence that he's going to have a hell of a year next year," the Sixers coach said. "I believe that completely, and I'm just really excited to see him with us and to bring him back into our program on a full-time basis."

Philly traded up to acquire the first overall pick in the 2017 draft and selected Fultz following his terrific freshman campaign at the University of Washington.

The Maryland native averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks across 25 appearances for the Huskies. He shot 47.6 percent from the field, including 41.3 percent from beyond the arc. He also knocked down 52 threes.

Fultz couldn't match those lofty standards during an injury-shortened debut campaign with the 76ers.

The guard put up 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 14 games. He attempted one three-point shot in those contests.

Brown confirmed the 20-year-old franchise building block has been working on his shooting stroke, and the coach is pleased with the progress, per Fischer.

"He is putting in work. That's the first thing," the coach said. "I have a gut feel that he feels good about himself, that he is confident. When I'm with him, he feels and looks confident. Then I start seeing the progression of his shot and I start listening to him talking about his shot, it confirms that he's feeling good."

That's important because the Sixers will likely continue leaning on Ben Simmons to play point forward after his Rookie of the Year season. So Fultz must develop a more reliable shot to thrive off the ball more consistently.

Hoping he's able to rebound from a down year is likely Philadelphia's only viable option. While it's unclear how far those trade talks around the draft progressed, the 76ers would probably struggle to get a reasonable return.

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