Behind only LeBron James’ free agency decision and Kawhi Leonard’s trade, the story surrounding Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz took center stage this offseason. It was an eye-opening and all-around strange situation, to put it gently. The Sixers traded up to No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to select Fultz, who excelled in his only collegiate season at the University of Washington.
After posting averages of 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game in college, Fultz seemed like an easy top-two pick. But a shoulder injury sidelined the young guard for all but 14 regular season games, and upon returning, he struggled with his shot in a big way. Part of the issue seemingly had to do with his injury while the other aspect related to his own confidence.
Over the 14 games last year, Fultz averaged just 7.1 points, 3.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 40.5 percent from the field. He also attempted just one 3-pointer in that span, which he missed. It’s been a tough turnaround for Fultz to try to regain his confidence, and we’re going to take a look at the latest on his attempt to get his jump shot back.
Detailing Markelle Fultz’s Shooting Issues
There was no single way to pinpoint what was going on with Fultz’s jump shot. But considering he shot 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent from 3-point range prior to the injury, it was obviously an issue. One early report which came to light was from Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer, who explained the former No. 1 pick’s shooting woes “were actually mental, according to several sources.”
While much was made about the shoulder injury, the evaluation pointed to issues not actually stemming completely from his injury. Even NBA player development specialist Drew Hanlen admitted Fultz had the “yips,” where he “completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot,” as he told the Talking Schmidt Podcast.
Speaking of Hanlen, the coach played a big role in helping Fultz make the push to get back to his former self.
Fultz Works With Drew Hanlen in Offseason
After a tough end to the 2017-18 NBA season, Fultz turned to Hanlen in an effort to revert back to his collegiate form. The trainer currently works with the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, as well as Fultz’s teammate, Joel Embiid. It quickly became apparent the 20-year-old guard was focused on attempting to fix his struggles ahead of the new season.
In a video called ‘Unseen Hours,’ it was brought to light that Fultz was training three times a day with Hanlen. The work between the two drew a massive following on social media, as Hanlen and his team would post photos and videos of the Sixers guard working on his shot.
It’s apparent the offseason went well, as both sides seemed confident ahead of training camp and the preseason. In an interview back in late July, Hanlen joined ‘The Sidelines with Evan Daniels’ to discuss a wide range of things, but specifically Fultz. He was asked about what the upside for Philly’s guard looks like, and didn’t flinch.
“Star. I literally think that if he’s back to 100 percent, I think he’s immediately an All-Star. I know that’s a bold statement, but I work with a lot of other All-Stars, so I think I have the right to say that.” Hanlen stated.
It was a busy offeason for the guard, and as Sixers coach Brett Brown told Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice, Fultz apparently took “150,000 shots this summer.”
Start of 2018-19 NBA Season for Fultz
It’s been an up-and-down run of games for the second-year guard to this point. Fultz stated adamantly at the team’s media day that he got his “swagger back” this offseason with Hanlen, as Sixers Wire revealed. That hasn’t completely been the case through the first few games, though, and it’s apparent his confidence isn’t fully there yet.
In practices leading up to the season, Hanlen was actually at the team’s facilities getting some extra work in with Fultz. The player development coach was even in attendance for the 76ers’ opener against the Boston Celtics and has been to a few other games. His work has flashed at times for Fultz, but the shooting stroke hasn’t completely returned.
Over the first seven games of the NBA season, Fultz averaged 9.9 points, 4.3 assists and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 41.1 percent from the field and 36.4 per from 3-point range. He’s attempted 11 shots from beyond the arc, making four and is averaging 25.4 minutes per game.