So much of the Philadelphia 76ers’ season hinges on Markelle Fultz’s ability to bounce back from his bewildering rookie campaign. If Fultz is able to be the dynamic scoring guard who was a no-brainer pick atop the 2017 NBA Draft, Philly is going to be a contender to win the Eastern Conference. However, if Fultz’s well-documented shooting woes have a permanent impact on him, the Sixers might not be able to get to the conference finals, even if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are brilliant.
Fultz’s shooting struggles were at the forefront of Philly’s home opener against Chicago on Thursday night. The Sixers’ fans implored him to shoot whenever he touched the ball, a move that was meant to be encouraging but could have very, very easily been a bad thing.
In response, Fultz took a few jumpers, all of them agonizingly close to going in before eventually coming off the rim. But early on in the second quarter, Fultz pulled up from the free throw line, and after the ball rattled around a bit, it fell through the cylinder and ignited the Philly faithful.
Beyond celebrating Fultz’s jumper as fans of his team, there’s a human side to this as well. It’s been brutal watching a 20 year old struggle to the extent Fultz did, to the point that questions began existing about his ability to play basketball going forward. Watching him hit a jumper was something worth celebrating, and now, the onus is on Fultz to make sure this is something he can do consistently going forward.