No. 1 draft pick Markelle Fultz hasn’t set foot on an NBA court in a Sixers uniform since Oct. 23rd this season, in part due to a shoulder injury, and in part due to what that shoulder injury seemed to do to his shooting motion (or, if the shooting motion did that to his shoulder). We’ve all spent too much time watching grainy cell phone footage of his shot like it’s the Zapruder Film trying to see where his shot is, and trying to find out what his mental state is.
Last weekend the Sixers were on ESPN, and play-by-play man Mark Jones and Doris Burke had an on-air conversation about Fultz (as transcribed by NBC Sports Philadelphia).
“Brett Brown was telling us prior to the game tonight, prior to tip, that he speaks with Fultz, he works with Fultz and there seems to be some psychosomatic issues involved with getting over the hump and getting back on the court,” Jones said. “Brown says he continues to improve and he would expect that he would play at some point this year.”
“I’m worried about the young man,” Burke added. “Nineteen years old. He clearly seems to be shaken where that jump shot is concerned. You just hope his confidence gets back where it needs to be.”
Monday, Sixers coach Brown said they misquoted him and defended Fultz.
“It was completely misquoted. There was no reference to any of that,” Brown said before Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. “I’ve spoken with ESPN this morning. They’re very apologetic.”
“Markelle Fultz’s injury has been well-documented. I have talked about this hundreds and hundreds of times. The story hasn’t wavered once. His shot has been affected by the injury. We’re trying to reclaim it. There are times when he rises up to shoot that he does feel a bite and it affects him. It’s really that simple.”
To be fair, the story has wavered, because of team management. What was said in that private meeting that the sides can debate, but Davis and Burke are very professional. Besides, the idea that Fultz needs to get his confidence back and has had some “psychosomatic issues” doesn’t seem unreasonable, even if he and the team don’t like how that sounds.
I, like Burke, just hope we get to see Fultz back on the court this season at some point, then at Summer League. We all just want to see the rookie on the court and find out what he can do once unleashed.