76ers’ Markelle Fultz: ‘We’re going to be in the playoffs this year’

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76ers center Joel Embiid made clear he’s eying a playoff spot.

Markelle Fultz went a step further.

Fultz, via Matt Bowker of CSN Philly:

“We’re going to be in the playoffs this year, and I think everybody is willing to put forth their best effort and listen to the coaches and listen to the bench. We’ve got to just do whatever it takes to get there,” Fultz told CSNPhilly. “That’s practicing even harder, that’s doing extra work in the gym by ourselves, I mean, we’re going to do whatever it takes.”

That’s a fine goal for Philadelphia, and as Fultz underscores, chasing the playoffs should bring out the best in everyone. Even if the 76ers fall short, they’ll make valuable strides in pursuit.

Will they fall short, though?

They have an undeniably bright future behind Embiid, Fultz, Ben Simmons and the rest of their young core. But they might not be ready next season. At least Robert Covington is already a solid starter, and J.J. Redick plugs a big hole at shooting guard.

The weak Eastern Conference also provides hope. Only the Cavaliers, Celtics, Raptors and Wizards look like playoff locks. The Bucks also look likely to me, and plenty of people believe in the Heat. But the bottom couple spots are up for grabs. It might not take much for Philadelphia to grab one.