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Markelle Fultz points and assists per game average during 2017-18 NBA regular season

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NBA Betting Odds

Being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in any sport brings plenty of expectations, and after the Philadelphia 76ers spent the past several seasons tanking in order to acquire assets, the time has come. The “process” netted another top pick in Markelle Fultz, who will team with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to try and resurrect a franchise that has averaged 18 wins the past four seasons and hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2010.

Markelle Fultz assists per game average during 2017-18 NBA regular season

Over 2.5

Under 2.5

Markelle Fultz points per game average during 2017-18 NBA regular season

Over 12.5

Under 12.5

There’s no denying the talent that lies in the 6-foot-5 frame of Fultz. He led the Washington Huskies and all NCAA freshmen by scoring 23.2 points last season and also averaged nearly six assists as the team’s point guard. His leadership may be questioned and if anybody thinks that the top overall pick shouldn’t be a leader, that individual should be checked out immediately. That’s what high picks who are expected to contribute have to be. Fultz’s Huskies won only nine games last season, and he took off for the payday.

Now he enters a situation where the Sixers have plenty of promise but few games of NBA experience and less success. There is likely a backcourt controversy brewing with Simmons healthy and ready to play. Both Simmons and Fultz are listed as point guards and unlike the Lakers, who opened the door for Lonzo Ball to take over at the point, the Sixers will have to deal with an awkward situation and neither of the top picks from the past two drafts are going to sit.

Coach Brett Brown has already declared Simmons the starting point guard, but neither has played a second in the NBA and that situation will take time to get ironed out. There is plenty of upside in Philly with the stockpiling of high draft picks, but there is little actual game experience and that will make it difficult for Fultz as he and the team grow together.

Key Factor

Given what the Sixers have in place already, Fultz was the best fit, according to GM Bryan Colangelo. He has a skill set that will complement the inside game of Embiid, Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor, and he has the ability to be a scorer or ball handler in the backcourt. The big question is how he and Simmons will get along.

After years of drafting big men the Sixers have added some versatility to their lineup with Simmons drafted in 2016 and Fultz this year. Fultz played the point at Washington last season and his game as a facilitator was overlooked by his ability to score and the teams overall ineffectiveness.

The one thing that worries me about his situation is that there is no defined role for him. Does he play the point? Or is he a shooting guard? What about small forward? These are issues that need to be resolved and if not, Fultz’s game could take a step back before it springs forward.

NBA Free Picks

Fultz can score. He averaged over 23 points a game at Washington while shooting 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from behind the arc. He displayed his all-around game by averaging nearly six assists per contest. The Sixers will need some structure with a group of inexperienced players, and they may need more basketballs with guys who like to score.

We know the Sixers have a bunch of talented players on their squad and they should improve upon their win total from last season. Heck, the Sixers matched their win total from the previous two seasons combined and still won just 28 games last season. And we don’t know how the injury situation plays out. This is a franchise that hasn’t had a lot of luck with its top picks the last few years.

Embiid actually played last season for the first time since being drafted in 2014 and the club is waiting for Simmons, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, to take the floor for the first time. I have no doubt Fultz will be a good NBA player, but expecting him to score 12.5 points per game his rookie season is too much. He’ll get some time at the point with Simmons eased into the rotation and the assist average seems more like a gimme than his points per game average.

NBA Prediction: Markelle Fultz OVER 2.5 assists per game average.
NBA Prediction: Markelle Fultz UNDER 12.5 points per game average

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