Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz has had a rough start to his career, and his shoulder may be worse off than thought.
So far, the early impressions of top overall pick Markelle Fultz are that he is feeling his way through the NBA and his free throw shooting form is terrible. In general, Fultz is a rookie still showing promise but adjusting to life in the NBA.
The problem may be that he is playing through an injury that is worse than anyone can imagine.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports Fultz had fluid drained from his shoulder and that he “literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot,” according to his agent.
“Markelle had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder,” agent Raymond Brothers told ESPN. “He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”
That might explain his poor free throw shooting that saw him missing badly from the foul line. He is also shooting a woeful 33.3 percent from the floor and has yet to attempt a 3-pointer. Fultz is making an even worse 50.0 percent from the foul line.
Being able to raise your arms above your shoulder would certainly help there. His poor shooting may be a direct result of this shoulder discomfort.
It was something that plagued Fultz throughout the summer and even later in his career at Washington. The 76ers tried to remake his free throw shooting form, at least, to alleviate some of the pressure and discomfort on his shoulders. This was a concern.
The question then is why the 76ers went this route early in his career and why he tried to play through it. Good on him for being a gamer but the 76ers are obviously playing a longer game. That is why they were willing to trade up from the third selection in the draft with the Boston Celtics to acquire Fultz.
It is not as though Fultz has been terrible elsewhere. There are signs of his talent through the Sixers’ early games, but this shoulder injury is clearly holding him back in many ways.
Philadelphia’s decision to have him play through this injury may ultimately hurt him in his rookie year. He and the team have a long way to go in his career. Like with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, maybe some caution is warranted.
Raising your arms above your shoulder is kind of important in basketball.