It’s been more than two months since Markelle Fultz was officially shut down by the 76ers due to his mysterious shoulder ailment. Fultz recently returned to the team to go through practices and even 5-on-5 work, but while it’s been described as the “final stage” of his return to play program, there still isn’t an official timetable for when he’ll be back in uniform.
Everything about the situation has been weird, from him changing his shooting form leading up to the season due to the injury to the decision not to sit him down initially to him shooting left-handed at one point to the vague updates and lack of any kind of planned return date. The hope from Sixers fans was he would return to the form that made him a top overall pick coming out of Washington once his shoulder soreness subsided (which reportedly happened in early December).
Initial videos of Fultz shooting were promising, as it appeared he was at least closer to that college form, although his deep shot did look a little quick and like he was pushing the ball to the rim.
Here’s a college highlight tape where you can see how his shot was much more vertical and smoother on release.
In any case, when Keith Pompey from the Philly Inquirer posted a video of Joel Embiid shooting in London, Sixers fans and others couldn’t help but look in the background and notice Fultz putting up shots. While he’s on the other side of the court, it’s not difficult to see that he still appears to be tweaking with his form and the pushing nature now seems even more pronounced.
A look in Pompey’s mentions reveals a number of concerned Sixers fans, breaking down this tape like the Zapruder film, trying to understand what’s going on with Fultz’s form (and also just being generally not happy about it).
It’s clear there are lots of frustrations from Sixers fans about Fultz, which is understandable. They traded up from No. 3 to No. 1 to take Fultz, with the No. 3 pick turning into Jayson Tatum (who leads the league in three-point shooting) for Boston. While it’s never exactly fair to compare rookies like that, that’s the way fans see it and it only makes them more upset seeing Fultz not only on the shelf but clearly going through it when it comes to figuring out his shooting stroke.
The hope is that Fultz finds his shot, in whatever form that is, and can be comfortable with it. Whether it’s the dreaded yips, which has been a popular conspiracy about Fultz’s absence considering they found nothing structurally wrong with the shoulder, or just a guy who had an injury and overcompensated for it, messing up his feel for the game in the process, it’s clear he’s trying to find something with his stroke.