No more laughing at the 76ers
With the addition of Markelle Fultz, the NBA and fans from far and wide must now take the Sixers seriously.
Remember when the 76ers were the laughingstock of the NBA?
There was a time not too long ago that the Sixers were the subject of jokes and fodder for late-night talk shows. Their attendance was spotty. And they were in the national media spotlight only when they were about to break another record for futility.
You only needed to peek inside the Sixers practice facility on Friday to realize those days are gone. Team co-managing owner Josh Harris was in a jovial mood. So were team president Bryan Colangelo and coach Brett Brown. And no one laughed when Markelle Fultz, the team's first overall pick in Thursday's draft, talked about the Sixers turning "the Process" into positive results next season.
"For sure, that's the goal coming into next season," Fultz said. "We are going to try to turn it around next season. That's the goal. I'm pretty sure [his Sixers teammates] got the same objective, and we are all on the same page."
The acquisition of the versatile Fultz has people forgetting about how the Sixers averaged just 18.7 victories per season during the last four years.
Now, folks are buying season tickets in record numbers. As of Wednesday, the team had sold a franchise-best 14,000 seats, and the number is growing.
The team's core four players — Fultz, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons — have even been nickname the F.E.D.S. as in Fultz, Embiid, Dario and Simmons.
"There's a different phase of the program," Brown said. "There's a demarcation of what went on in the past until now. Now, really to me, is the launching pad. It's the time that you can touch like three cornerstones in [Fultz, Embiid and Simmons] of a program that you think can be the foundational pieces for many, many years."
But Fultz wasn't the only new addition. The Sixers acquired the draft rights to Latvia center Anzejs Pasecniks, the 25th overall pick, in a trade with the Orlando Magic. The Magic will a receive the Oklahoma City Thunder's top 20 protected 2020 first-round pick and the lesser of the 2020 second-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks.
In the second round, the Sixers drafted Australian forward Jonah Bolden with the 36th pick. Brown coached against Bolden's father, Bruce, during their days in the Australian National Basketball League.Then the Sixers acquired French center Mathias Lessort with the 50th pick. The Sixers sold their 39th pick to the Los Angeles Clippers and the 46th pick to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Pasecniks, Bolden and Lessort are expected to remain overseas for at least another season.
Fultz is determined to have the Sixers headed in the right direction by the time his draftmates arrive.
"I'm trying to turn the program around," he said. "I'm trying to get back to the playoffs. Like I said, the future is bright."