This was the game for coach Brett Brown. This was the game where Ben Simmons wasn’t playing and Brown could insert Markelle Fultz as the starting point guard. This was the game that the coach would be able to see exactly what he had in Fultz. It’s early in the season and with Simmons out, Fultz should have realistically seen the bulk of the minutes at the point guard spot. So, what happened?
TJ McConnell received the bulk of the minutes, 32 to be exact. Sure, he had 8 assists and 10 points but, he also had 4 turnovers. Fultz played 21 minutes, finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds with an assist and a block. The good news was that he finished 6-9 from the floor and 1-2 from three-point range. The bad news was that at 9:45 left in the fourth quarter, the coach saw it fit to put McConnell in and let him play the rest of the way including all of the overtime period.
Much has been made about Fultz and Simmons being similar in the fact that they don’t take jump shots. Fultz has been taking some only now, everyone wants the three from him. So, again, why wouldn’t you let him play a large portion of the minutes and see what he can do. It seemed like he was on his way to a twenty-point night when he was pulled out. Each time the play stopped in the first three quarters and it was close to the six-minute mark, TJ subbed in for Markelle. This isn’t how you develop a player. This isn’t what Brown said he would do in developing Fultz and helping him to build confidence. This is last years playoffs when he was forced to be a spectator.
For as much as everyone loves McConnell and his grit, he’s not as talented as Fultz. With Fultz, essentially missing last year, this would be the time for the coach to show how he’s developing Fultz. Instead, we were shown that Brown and his rotation have a lot to be worked on.
Normally, I stand behind Brett Brown and give him credit for having coached through the whole “process” and brought the team back to relevance with last years resurgence but, tonight I have to say that he’s failed the team, it’s fans and more importantly, Markelle Fultz.
It’s absurd to see Fultz make a few plays followed by a chase down block and is pulled out of the game the next minute. The Sixers lost the game to the Pistons tonight and there were plenty of things that went wrong that could have helped them win the game but, not playing Fultz at all for the last 15 minutes and having him split time with McConnell throughout the whole game up until the fourth quarter was a big mistake on the coaches part. If you’re not going to put him out there and see what he can truly bring to the team then trade him and get something in return while he still has some semblance of value, because you’re not doing him any favors with how you’re playing him now.
Watching a former first overall draft pick sit on the bench is rough but that happens with players who can’t contribute to the team, show no effort and are a detriment to the team in general. Having a player that’s supremely talented, sitting on the bench for no reason, especially when he’s played well in the game up to that point, is downright insulting.
Brett Brown needs to sit back and really think about how he’s coaching this team, what he expects from them and how he’s going to get the most out of the players. It starts with Markelle Fultz and up to this point, Brown has been a complete failure in that regard. For all the good that he’s done while bringing the Sixers back to relevance in the city and the NBA he’s also done a lot of harm to a player that’s shown his willingness to work hard to get where he should be. Having it taken from him is the coaches fault and Brown should be held accountable for that.
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports