Markelle Fultz has been under scrutiny for a while now. The former No. 1 overall pick barely played last season after being drafted (with no small amount of fanfare) by the 76ers to join young rising stars like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The then-rookie guard was shut down by the team just four games into 2017-2018, and his return to the burgeoning Eastern Conference franchise and league-famous “Process” was one of the most highly anticipated aspects of this season.
So far, though, Fultz has been at the butt of countless jokes because of his wonky shooting form. Videos like this one have been circulating virally, making people wonder just what exactly is happening with the former college hoops phenomenon:
It turns out, as the team all but confirmed today, that Fultz is still dealing with lingering shoulder issues from a past motorcycle accident. The question of how Fultz has been emphatically dunking with such an injury, but as far as his jump shot goes, it makes a whole lot of sense that he’s been dealing with some persistent pain. The young player has seemed like his mind and body just weren’t cooperating–there had to be more to the story than jitters or an estranged shooting coach.
Before the 76ers’ matchup against the Suns last night, during which Fultz played 7 minutes and had 1 rebound and 1 assist, the guard tweeted this:
The fact that Fultz spent most of the game on the bench turned heads. Though he hasn’t been playing great, he’s been playing. His average points per game sits around 8.2, along with 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Not great for a No. 1 pick, but not bad for your average bench player with some solid minutes. In light of today’s news, though, it all starts to make sense.
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz–a player from the same draft class as Fultz who had a breakout season last year–tweeted in support of Fultz this morning just as the news of his immediate inactivity broke.
Mitchell is having his own struggles this year–he had just 7 points last night as the Jazz struggled against the Oladipo-less Pacers–so the two young players may be finding solidarity in one another’s struggles.
As far as Fultz goes, don’t count him out yet. Once he gets his health in order, the rest is sure to follow.