Markelle Fultz has not played NBA basketball since the fall when he was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Sixers, the 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Fultz was selected before the Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball and the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell.
Fultz struggled to find any sense of normalcy while in the City of Brotherly Love.
On October 23, after Fultz went 1-for-4 from the field in 16 minutes against the Detroit Pistons, Raymond Brothers, Fultz’s agent, told ESPN that his client “had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder. He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”
Per The Ringer’s Jason Concepcion: Last October, Fultz told a group of reporters, that he was experiencing shoulder soreness that had caused him to change his shot.
Less than a week later, at another scrimmage, a Philly.com writer noticed that Fultz was passing up open looks at an Andre Robersonesque clip. It was quite concerning for a player who had risen to the top of the draft board on the strength of being an NBA-ready offensive machine. Sixers coach Brett Brown was asked if he was comfortable with the rookie’s shifting shooting mechanics.
In December, Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers announced the former 76ers guard was been diagnosed with Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS).
Brothers described it as a physical injury that “affects nerves between the neck and shoulder resulting in abnormal functional movement and range of motion, thus severely limiting Markelle’s ability to shoot a basketball. TOS is treatable by physical therapy.”
According to the MayoClinic, common causes of TOS include “physical trauma from a car accident and repetitive injuries from job- or sports-related activities.
Philly traded Fultz at the trade deadline in February, shipping him to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, a top-20 protected first-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2019.
Fultz has a fresh start, BUT he has not played a minute of hoops for the Orlando Magic this season and missed the NBA Playoffs, also
Jeff Weltman, the Orlando Magic’s President of Basketball Operation said the guard continues to make progress working back from his injured right shoulder, but the timetable for his return remains uncertain.
While Fultz hasn’t returned to basketball activities, Weltman has been impressed with what he’s learned about the 20-year-old.
“You guys know I was excited on trade deadline day, and I can only say that I’m much more excited, having gotten to know Markelle and who he is as a person, who he is as a worker, [and] who he is as a teammate,” Weltman said. “Another guy, obviously this is a different situation, but another guy whose timetable will not be rushed.”
Orlando Magic head coach, Steve Clifford noted in March that it would be “very difficult” for Fultz to return this season.
“He’s still rehabbing his shoulder and he’s not even able to really do much on the floor yet,” Clifford said, per ESPN. “It’s a pretty significant shoulder injury. I would say he’s starting to do a little bit, but it would be very difficult for him to get back this year.”
Fultz has been seen on the bench at games. Fultz sounded optimistic that he can resurrect his career with the Magic.
“I think the biggest thing that we’ve talked about is just doing stuff the right way, just building me up as a man and on the court,” Fultz explained to the Orlando Sentinel. “I think that’s music to my ears. Two things that I really want to do is be the best player I can be and be the best young man I can be. They do a great job of doing that as you can see with the team they have now.”