The situation involving Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz and his shoulder injury is one that’s provided very little in terms of answers. Not just recent answers, either, as this goes back to when his original shoulder injury happened, ahead of the 2017-18 NBA season. Now it seems that everyone, including Fultz, is attempting to find more a solution to the problem.
Fultz, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of Washington, entered the league with sky-high expectations. After the Sixers traded up in order to make sure they landed him, the idea of a new “Big Three” in the form of Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons came to light. Obviously, that didn’t pan out thus far, although Philly’s addition of Jimmy Butler may have set that process in motion.
But at some point, either before or after being drafted, everything changed for Fultz. It came near the end of summer and when the guard showed up to join his new team officially, something was different with his jump shot. And that’s where things got a bit off the rails.
After four games of his rookie season with Fultz’s shooting woes being apparent, he sat out until the very end of the year. Fultz came back to play the final nine games of the year and saw playing time in just three postseason games. After the year, he linked up with NBA player development specialist Drew Hanlen to improve his jumper, as it was believed the young guard’s shot needed to be fixed.
Maybe it was from a loss of confidence, or maybe an injury, but we’ll likely never know exactly what happened.
Markelle Fultz’s Work With Drew Hanlen
Nearly the entire offseason for Fultz was spent with Hanlen. The duo even worked three-a-day practices together at the same facility as his teammate, Joel Embiid. While there were various teasers and comments made about improvements to the Sixers guard’s game. This even went as far as Hanlen stating that Fultz is an “immediately an All-Star” when asked during an interview on FOX Sports 1’s The Sidelines With Evan Daniels what his upside is.
“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.
Hanlen was even at the team facilities ahead of training camp and the start to the season. But shortly after the current year began, he made an interesting comment on Twitter that Fultz was “still not healthy,” which he later deleted.
Following that point, things began to shift in the wrong direction even further. Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype reported in mid-November. that the two were no longer working together, nor were they on speaking terms.
Struggles in Starting Lineup & Decision to See Specialist
It was apparent from early on in the season that something wasn’t right with Fultz. He didn’t have the same explosiveness fans saw during his time in college and his shot still wasn’t falling consistently. The 20-year-old guard got the starting nod out of the gate from Sixer coach Brett Brown, playing alongside Ben Simmons in the backcourt for 15 games.
Following the trade in which Philly acquired Jimmy Butler, Fultz was then shifted to the bench, as JJ Redick regained his starting job. He played four games off the bench, but it was the most recent three in which things began to take a turn. Fultz’s minutes dropped into the teens and then down to just seven in a win over the Phoenix Suns.
Shortly after that game, Fultz’s agent Raymond Brothers revealed the second-year guard would sit out while visiting shoulder specialists. He proceeded to do just that and wrapped up the 19-game stretch with averages of 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Fultz shot just 41.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Latest Info & Details on Diagnosis for Fultz
After the extended absence from the court, it was revealed that Fultz was diagnosed with Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. The report comes from ESPN’s Adrian Wojarnowski, who cited that his agent stated it was “severely limiting Markelle’s ability to shoot a basketball.”
After the news came to light, Fultz was labeled as out “indefinitely” by the Sixers (per Wojnarowski and ESPN), but a timeline of 3-6 weeks was given as an estimation. Not surprisingly, this wasn’t the end of the story, though. As Sarah Todd of the Philly Inquirer reported that the guard has seen “upwards of 10 specialists” and this diagnosis was the first which recommended Fultz sit out.
Following all the reports and the latest news on Fultz and his injury, The Athletic’s Shams Charania revealed the guard’s plan and approach moving forward. He will apparently work with former Lakers’ physical therapist Judy Seto, who previously worked with Kobe Bryant and Elton Brand, among others.
The connection between Seto and Brand may have played a role here, but regardless, the obvious hope is that Fultz can get past whatever is going on and return to form quickly.
Source: Heavy Sports