The Markelle Fultz situation is well known across the NBA: the number one pick, who the 76ers traded up for, who forgot how to shoot a basketball. After a promising offseason with personal trainer, Drew Hanlen (who we now hate), it looked like Fultz was going to have a huge comeback season after only playing in 14 games as a rookie. Now, here we are on December 5th and Fultz is now considered “out indefinitely.” What went wrong?
After a strong offseason, coach Brett Brown slotted Fultz in as the starting shooting guard alongside Ben Simmons in the backcourt and relegated sniper JJ Redick to the Sixth Man role. Starting off the season, Fultz showed a willingness to shoot 2-3 outside jumpers per game and knocked a few down to the applause of Philadelphia fans. He attacked the rim with ease and although the shots didn’t always fall, he looked confident and could get to the rim almost at will. He was a strong secondary facilitator next to Simmons and in the last few games he played, Markelle showed a new hunger and tenacity on defense. But after ten or so games, Fultz completely abandoned the three point jumper. When he got to the free throw line, every viewer could tell something was wrong with him. There was the “pump fake free throw” and the “juggling free throw” that made headlines all over Twitter to go along with his abysmal 56.8% mark from the foul line. He looked fine on mid-range pull-up jumpers even if they didn’t always fall and I, along with others, began to think it wasn’t necessarily a mental problem at all and was a legitimate injury.
Fultz has now missed the last six games of the 76ers season after his agent Raymond Brothers forced him to see a specialist on November 21 to hear new opinions on his shoulder. After spending last week traveling to see approximately ten different specialists, we now have a diagnosis: thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Brothers told ESPN yesterday that this disorder “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.” Back in February 2018, Greg Chaplin, who you may know as “Dr. Movement” explained both on Twitter and in an interview with the Phifth Quarter that he believed that Fultz’s injury was TOS. Now 10 months later, it turns out Chaplin was indeed correct. What is wrong with the 76ers training staff?
Philadelphia has Fultz listed out indefinitely with a chance to return in 3-6 weeks after physical therapy, which will be done in Los Angeles according to Brothers. In his stead, TJ McConnell will continue to see minutes as the primary backup point guard. I am both excited and nervous to see Markelle return after a lengthy absence: Will we finally get the number one pick we thought we were getting or is this an injury he simply cannot come back from? I trust you ‘Kelle and I will continue to Trust the Process until it is once again #FultzSZN.
P.S. To all you Fultz haters saying to trade him or that he is a nutcase, remember this is still the man who was the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double and has only played in 33 career games. Even without the jumper, Fultz is a solid playmaker, incredible athlete, emerging defender, and an impressive finisher. He will be fine now that somebody has finally recognized what is wrong with him.
P.S.S. Fire the entire 76ers medical staff. You all are terrible at your jobs.
For the full ESPN story from Adrian Wojnarowski, click here.
Picture Courtesy of Philly.com
University of South Carolina ’21