- Mitchell Leff/Getty
- Philadelphia 76ers No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz has been out since late October with an unspecified shoulder injury.
- During Fultz’s brief NBA action, his shot was askew, leading some to wonder if Fultz was compensating for the shoulder injury or if he hurt his shoulder while changing his shot.
- On Wednesday, video of Fultz shooting emerged, and his shot did not look any better than it did in October.
- The shooting is worrisome for a player who was a pure and efficient shooter in college and was the consensus top pick in the draft.
Markelle Fultz is back on the court and practicing, but from the looks of it, things haven’t improved for the rookie guard since we last saw him in October.
Fultz has been out with an unspecified shoulder injury since late October. The entire situation around the Philadelphia 76ers’ No. 1 pick has been a mystery.
At some point Fultz, who was the consensus top prospect before the draft, changed his shooting form, though it’s unclear when or why. He also hurt his shoulder at some point, though it’s also unclear how or when. His agent ominously said in October that Fultz “literally cannot raise him arms up to shoot.”
It’s also unclear if Fultz changed his shot because he hurt his shoulder or the other way around, and the 76ers and Fultz’s agent and trainer had different versions of the story.
The NBA world first sensed something was askew in preseason when Fultz was bricking free throws and shooting the ball in front of his body. Things didn’t improve in the regular season when he shot just 33% from the field, 50% from the free throw line, and didn’t attempt a single three-pointer. So the 76ers shut him down for an unspecified amount of time in an attempt to heal his shoulder.
However, two months later, Fultz is shooting again – and it doesn’t look very good. On Wednesday, Fultz was shooting before the 76ers’ game against the Boston Celtics in London, and his form did not look improved.
Watch Fultz (N0. 20) in the background of the video below take two shots during which he appeared to be pushing the ball in front of him.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 11, 2018
And he didn’t look much more comfortable in this session, either.
— Basket USA (@basketusa) January 11, 2018
This is how Fultz was shooting during preseason – his release was low and too far out in front of his body.
Compare it to an identical shot from college. In his lone season at Washington, Fultz knocked down 50% of his field goals and 41% of his threes.
The side-by-side is jarring:
I'm not a shooting coach … but this ain't the same thing: pic.twitter.com/p6oicIvRi9
— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) January 11, 2018
The 76ers’ update on Fultz in early January was just as vague as the timeline of his injury and shooting change:
“Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz has been cleared to begin the final stage of his return-to-play program. The program consists of gradual re-integration into team practices and training, complemented with additional conditioning work to support fitness readiness for gameplay.”
When Fultz does return to game action, his jumper will be heavily scrutinized, in part, because no one is sure what has happened to his shoulder and his form. But video from Wednesday does not appear as though he’s back to his pre-draft level of shooting.