According to an announcement from the Sixers, Markelle Fultz is entering the final stages of preparing to actually touch a basketball.
Decades from now, when the sports scholars chronicle the history of the Philadelphia 76ers, they will no doubt write several chapters on The Process and everything that it involved. There will be sections of former GM Sam Hinkie, tanking and no doubt Joe Embiid’s Twitter.
Another topic they will probably touch on will be the Sixers’ complete lack of luck when it came to first-round draft picks staying healthy.
It is tough to think of another team that has had the kind of abominable misfortune like the 76ers have had over the last few years.
Nerlens Noel. Joel Embiid. Ben Simmons. You could even include Jahlil Okafor on that list since he missed time his rookie season due to issues with his knee.
And then there is Markelle Fultz.
Fultz was supposed to be the final piece to the puzzle. The player that would make the Sixers a playoff team when you put him on the floor with Embiid and Simmons. That was why the Sixers traded up to get him with the first overall pick at the 2017 NBA Draft. Talk of the playoffs and even the NBA Finals was heard all across Philly and it looked like the years of futility and suffering were finally over.
And then Fultz actually hit the hardwood and it was painfully obvious something was very wrong.
After just four games and a 33 percent field goal percentage, the Sixers shut Fultz down and discovered he was suffering from a scapular muscle imbalance.
In other words, Fultz would join the long, distinguished list of Sixers first-round picks who would ride the bench his rookie season instead of being on the floor.
But unlike with Embiid or Simmons, there was hope when it came to Fultz.
The Sixers have long said they planned to get Fultz on the court sooner rather than later. Every week fans would look forward to the medical updates from the team to see if Fultz was any closer to being an actual, real basketball player.
On Tuesday, they got the news they had been waiting for courtesy of Jessica Camerato’s Twitter feed.
— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) January 2, 2018
While the announcement is a bit vague on details (Shocking coming from the Sixers, I know) it seems reasonable to assume that Fultz will likely hit the court before the end of January. He was in pretty good shape to begin with and is hungry to prove that the Sixers moving up in the draft to get him was the right thing to do.
Of course, given this is the 76ers, who knows. It’s been four years and Embiid still has restrictions on his playing time.
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But overall this is good news. It looks like we finally get to see the Embiid/Simmons/Fultz trio at work before the end of the 2017-18 season.
Will that mean a trip to the postseason? It seems doubtful considering the ground the Sixers would have to make up in the standings and the time it takes for players to form any kind of chemistry as a unit. But next season? All bets are off.
Get ready kids. The Markelle Fultz Show is about to begin.