Markelle Fultz‘s fourth-quarter three against the Brooklyn Nets Sunday was just ugly. As in bringing back the nightmares of last season ugly.
Take a look at the shot, side-by-side with a better (less aimed) jumper earlier in the season:
Sixers fans, growing frustrated watching their team get off to a worse-than-expected 6-5 start, have gone after Drew Hanlen, Fultz’s trainer and the guy who reworked the 20-year-old’s shot over the summer. Which led to this interesting exchange, something Hanlen has now deleted (but nothing ever truly dies online).
Hanlen appears to be saying that Fultz’s shoulder, which sidelined him much of last season (and for the Fultz camp is what led to his shot being off and then the crisis of confidence) is not yet right. That may be true, guys play through some pain pretty much every game, it’s a question of degree and impact. Brett Brown and the Sixers have not sat Fultz or put him on an injury report, so we don’t really have a way to know how serious this is and how much it may be impacting him.
Fultz is taking threes this season (1.2) a game and is shooting 30.8 percent on them. His shot has improved some, both visually and it’s simply going in more often. But he also still doesn’t have a lot of confidence in it, and he doesn’t attack the rim as often as had been expected, and while he finished pretty well when he gets all the way there (65.6 percent inside three feet) beyond that he is just not a threat. Which is bogging down the offense because opposing teams are increasingly not guarding him (it’s especially a problem when he is on the court with the non-shooting Ben Simmons).
For the record, while Fultz is hitting a higher percentage of threes than Kyle Kuzma, what separates the two at this early point in their careers is Kuzma is confident and decisive. He attacks. He did before LeBron James joined the Lakers and has played well just finishing what others set up for him in L.A. Sixers fans can only dream of Fultz playing with that kind of confidence and aggression.