Sixers trying to help Fultz find missing shooting stroke
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In his lone college season at Washington, guard Markelle Fultz shot better than 50 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. He showed so much promise that the Philadelphia 76ers traded up to take him with the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft.
Now the 19-year-old’s shooting stroke is so ugly and ineffective he remains sidelined even as he regains his health following a right shoulder injury.
“I’m old, and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said Monday of Fultz’s lost shot. “I really haven’t.”
Fultz missed his 36th straight game on Monday, a 117-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors, a day after reporters saw him awkwardly push the ball from his chest while badly missing 3-point attempts at the end of practice.
Fultz, who didn’t speak to reporters, is a long way from teaming with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and making the Sixers a contender after a lengthy rebuild.
“The organization will help him reclaim the reason he was the first pick chosen in the NBA draft,” Brown said.
Fultz played in four games early in the season, making 9 of 27 shots (33 percent) from the field, nothing longer than 13 feet. He didn’t attempt a 3-point shot and was 6 of 12 from the free-throw line.
After a victory at Detroit on Oct. 23, the Sixers shut down Fultz with what they called “soreness and scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder.”
The 6-foot-4 guard is now healthy enough to practice, but he can’t shoot straight.
“It’s reclaiming the shot that he used to have,” Brown said. “The timeline of when that happens, none of us know. But I feel like there is discomfort in his shoulder and it does affect his shot.”
Brown, who calls himself “a shooting coach at heart,” vows to help Fultz rediscover his shot. He plans to spend extra time with him at practice. The team has shielded Fultz from reporters since he was sidelined.
“He’s a rise-up guy. He’s a live ball, off-the-dribble, rise-up guy. A Kyle Korver type, that wasn’t who he was,” Brown said. “He was a wiggly, do-what-he-wants-to-guard. So you go back and you say, ‘How can you find that again?’”
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