“I do what I’ve got to do to get the ball on the rim,” Sixers’ rookie Markelle Fultz told NBC Sports about his rough shooting start to the season, including going 6-of-12 from the free throw line this season.
The No. 1 pick in the last draft spoke to our Dan Feldman and said the problem was temporary, a condition of his shoulder injury. “At the end of the day, I know what I can do,” Fultz said. “My teammates know what I can do. My coaches know what I can do.”
However, like great athletes in all sports, he doesn’t like to discuss his injuries and would not get into details because he doesn’t want it to sound like an excuse.
So Fultz’s agent did that for him, speaking to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (corrected statement from an earlier report).
“He had a cortisone shot on Oct. 5, which means fluid was put into his shoulder — not taken out,” agent Raymond Brothers told ESPN on Tuesday night. “My intention earlier was to let people know that he’s been experiencing discomfort. We will continue to work with (Sixers general manager) Bryan Colangelo and the medical staff.”
The Sixers have been willing to let Fultz play through this, as Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia told me on the most recent PBT Podcast (which is Sixers focused). That feels in stark contrast to how the team has handled past injuries such as those to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Granted, those two suffered far more severe injuries to start, but in their returns Philadelphia erred on the side of caution. Maybe overly so, to the point of frustrating Embiid, who just wants to play.
Fultz has shown promise with his handles and length as a rookie, but it has been undone by his shooting — he is 9-of-27 from the floor this season. The Sixers have always taken the long view and need to with Fultz: Let him rest, get the shoulder right, then bring him back.
We’ll see if Fultz’s status changes if his struggles continue.