Here's a roundup of what analysts on ESPN and NBA TV had to say after the 76ers made it official and took Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Jay Bilas, ESPN:
"They're getting a guy who's got an NBA frame already. He's got great length and he's a three-level scorer. He can score from deep, he can score in the middle game, and he can score at the rim. Great body balance. By far, in this draft, the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in the draft. He's essentially a James Harden clone on the offensive end. He's got a quick, high release on his shot.
I think one of the things that's interesting, though, is he has a couple of flaws. One, he floats on defense. He is not a great defensive player yet, although he should be really good. He has some LeBron-type blocks where he chases guys down from behind.
But to have a guy like this, where offensively he's really got no holes in his game – he's a multi-dimensional scorer. Once he comes off a pick-and-roll, he's got great pace with it. He can change speeds, change direction. An excellent finisher around the basket.
And then we talked about his physical profile. He's 6-4. He's got a 6-10 wingspan – tip it back, America – but he's long, he's strong, and the kid knows how to play. He's an excellent passer, almost six assists per game. He'll stick his nose in there and rebound. Twenty-three points per game at Washington. Since 2000, that's the third-best for a freshman, behind Michael Beasley [at Kansas State] and Kevin Durant [at Texas]."
Jalen Rose, ESPN:
I have a comp for him, Jay: A gentleman named Bradley Beal [of the Washington Wizards]. His demeanor, his ability to score off the dribble. Not necessarily going to be the primary ball-handler in Philadelphia, like Beal isn't asked to be in Washington. However, he can get points in flurries at multiple levels, as you mentioned. I think he has what it takes to be a big-time scorer in the NBA.
Seth Davis, NBA TV:
"Individually, he was sensational. People talk about what his team did – let's remember how young and depleted Washington was. They lost two freshmen from last year's team who were first-round draft picks. Markelle Fultz shot 48 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three [point range]. He averaged six assists per game, he averaged six rebounds per game. What do you want the kid to do?
The team won nine games because they didn't have good players around him. He wasn't selfish. He brought it every day. Defenses could load up on him, double-teaming him, triple-teaming him. He still put up good numbers with good percentages. I think he is tailor-made for today's NBA, where not only do you have to be a point guard, you have to be a points guard. And I think that Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum are the two players in this draft who are ready from day one, offensively to have an impact on their team."
Kenny Smith, NBA TV:
"If I was making the pick, I would pick [Lonzo] Ball. I think it's a better fit. I'm not saying he's a better player than Markelle Fultz, I just think it's a better fit. You've got guys who can pass the ball, move it around, with Simmons and Ball. That's what I would do. …
It's all about development when you're coming into the league, honestly. Because most guys are going to have some huge, glaring deficiencies, and they're going to have some strengths. But how you develop as the years come determines how good a basketball player you become.
Obviously, his speed [and] athleticism [are] going to help him. The ability to create shots is bigger now and more prevalent than defensive prowess. So you just have to be a really good team defender more than an individual defender now. I think that's changed over the years. So for me, watching him become a team defender is more important than becoming a lockdown guy who can pressure up front.
But if you can put the ball in the basket, you become a star earlier than you did in the 90's and the early 2000's. So this is the time of the scoring guy.
Steve Smith, NBA TV:
You've got to have another guy who can score the basketball alongside Embiid. And what I love about Markelle Fultz is, not a lot of young guards come in and be able to play on balance.
Here's a guy who, [like] Seth talked about, drew double-teams, still shot a high percentage, was unselfish. The one thing I love about him is, he can get his shot. He can make shots off the pull-up at all three levels: from the three-point line, in the mid-range, and then he's fearless playing through contact going through the rim. He was forced to be the guy [at Washington]. He accepted that role. He didn't win a lot of games, but I never really saw him frustrated with his teammate. Everybody talked about [how] he was a great teammate.
I think he's going to be good. I think he's going to be fantastic playing alongside Embiid, and also Ben Simmons.
Before the draft started, ESPN's analysts had more to say about Fultz and his place with the Sixers:
Rose: "They're a perfect team that embodies the enthusiasm that takes place right now in NBA basketball. Just think about this: you [host Rece Davis] talked about them selling 14,000 season tickets [for the 2017-18 season]. Joel Embiid has played 30 games, Ben Simmons has played no games, and obviously Fultz hasn't either. None of those players played in the NCAA Tournament. But yet, we understand that they have something special going on in Philadelphia. It's really a treat for their fans, who've suffered the last couple of years watching their basketball team try to get to this position. Let's see if it pays off. I think it will."
Michael Wilbon: "They've lost 250 out of their last 325 games. There's one thing that concerns me about them. Jalen, you're so right. They're selling promise. I would always hear you, toward the end of your career, credit 'my vets' – I'm quoting you. Meaning Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller, if I'm not mistaken. Well, who are 'my vets' for for Fultz, and for Simmons, and [Dario] Saric and [Joel] Okafor and Embiid? Who are 'my vets' besides Gerald Henderson? At some point, you've got to direct all of this youthful talent and exuberance. And veteran players, isn't that the way you do it in the NBA? Almost as much as coaching?"
Rose: Absolutely, no question about it. And the thing is, they teach them how to be professionals, not only on the floor but off the floor as well.