Markelle Fultz is struggling mightily with his shot this preseason, shooting just 29% from the field through two games. It sounds like Fultz is playing through a shoulder injury. So it’s good that he has an excuse, but it’s bad that he’s hurt. Especially the way that Philadelphia 76ers Philadelphia 76ers top draft picks have a tendency to miss entire rookie campaigns because of injuries.
Fultz was 5-of-11 from the field on Monday, but only took one shot outside the paint. In his preseason debut last week, he shot 2-of-13 missing all 11 of non-lay-ups.
Shot selection is one thing, but the problem really rears its head when Fultz steps to the line. He made 2-of-5 free throws against Boston and you can see why if you watch this free throw attempt.
Felt looks like a drunk guy at Dave & Buster’s playing pop-a-shot. Not a guy who shot 41% from 3 at Washington. The good news is that Fultz only shot 65% from the free throw line in college so there was always room for improvement.
There was talk over the summer that Fultz changed his shot, but now it appears that was more out of necessity than experimentation. Fultz played Monday’s game with a heavily-taped right shoulder. Via the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body.
“But he’s been working on just trying to get that thing rehabilitated.”
There were a few times that Brown thought Fultz looked good on his jump shots. But he acknowledged that you can tell the pain is bothering him by his free throws and his lack of three-point shooting.
“Maybe it’s a sign that it’s hurting a little bit more than he lets on,” Brown said.
The question is – why are they letting him play at all? Are the Sixers so set on progressing to the next step of The Process – trying to actually win basketball games again – that they’re going to let a rookie struggle through an injury? This is not a team that is going to compete so what does it matter if Fultz gets his first reps with his new teammates in January or February instead of October? This could be both painful and frustrating for Fultz and the fans.