Nick Wright reveals how good an Embiid, Simmons-led 76ers could be if Markelle Fultz stays healthy

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In his conversation with Cris Carter, Chris Broussard and and Jenna Wolfe, Nick Wright reacts to Markelle Fultz' return to the 76ers, detailing how formidable Philadelphia could become if Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz continue to develop together.

- Now they have a true big point guard, a guy that's 6' 4", that can go off the dribble, can shoot with either hand, and is going to have his jumper. You got Ben Simmons, who is a LeBron clone to some-- you got Joel Embiid, who is going to be problems for people inside the post and at the 3-point line. I mean, to me, this is exciting things happening on Broadway.

- Here's the thing about Philly. Anything Fultz gives you this year is icing on the cake.

CRIS CARTER: Yes.

- I mean, even-- and I gotta be honest. Watching throughout the season, as he was struggling mentally and physically, I was kind of like, they're still OK. Because they still have those other two guys. And I believe, long term, those are the two guys that are going to be their superstars.

Now Fultz may become a star, whatever. As long as they've got those two, those bookends at point guard and at center, they're fine. And for the process, look, I thought if they made the playoffs this year, that was a plus. Because it speeds everything up, right?

CRIS CARTER: Yes.

- If they didn't make the playoffs next year, you're like, let's just get in the playoffs. Now, you make the playoffs. Next year, rather you get LeBron or not, next year, you are thinking finals, right?

NICK WRIGHT: Right, can we win the East?

- I mean, really-- yeah, can we win the East?

- Absolutely.

- I think right now they can get-- can get, I'm not predicting it-- can get to the Eastern conference finals, if they avoid Cleveland until then.

CRIS CARTER: Mm hm.

- That is a 100% correct. Like, right-- so right now, they would play Toronto in Round 2. They wouldn't be the favorite against Toronto.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: No.

- But they could beat Toronto.

CHRIS BROUSSARD: Yes.

- And it's not an anti-Toronto take. It's, I-- who was checking Embiid? Like, do we trust Jonas Valanciunas to check Embiid? Are you going to have Serge Ibaka try to deal with him when Embiid's got five inches on him? I don't know.

And so if you were to say to me-- like, it's obvious I believe Cleveland is going to make the NBA finals. But if Chris Broussard were to come out here and say, Nick, I got a crystal ball. I know for a fact Cleveland doesn't make it, tell me who does. My answer would be Philly. That was before--

- That has been.

- That has been for the last six weeks. I mean, since Christmas day, this team's got the third best record in the NBA, the third best defense in the NBA, the second best net rating-- how much they're beating people by-- in the entire NBA. It's only Houston ahead of them in all three of those categories, so-- in the record, in the rating category.

I want to say one thing, though, about Fultz. Because it's very difficult for rookies, especially perimeter players, in their whole rookie season, but particularly their first 20 games, to be a positive impact on any team. Initially, I was like, man, could he actually kind of-- even though I'm happy for him, kind of a little bit disrupt what they have going in Philly? And then I realized he's going to be taking minutes from TJ McConnell.

- Exactly.

- And TJ McConnell is a below replacement level player in the league. So if Markelle Fultz is just-- I mean, TJ McConnell's a guy who has shot the same amount of 3s as Ben Simmons this year as a 6' 2" point guard. Like, so he has been a huge negative. If you're taking McConnell's minutes, even if you don't do what you did last night, that's a positive for Philly. This is a really good day to be a Sixer fan.