Despite rumors and every indication otherwise, guard Markelle Fultz might not be returning to the hardwood as soon as we all thought.
It would appear that for the fans of the Philadelphia 76ers, the waiting game will continue in regards to first overall pick Markelle Fultz.
Earlier this month, there was every indication that there was a light at the end of the tunnel regarding Fultz. The Sixers had announced that the 19-year-old rookie out of Washington was entering the final stages of the plan for him to finally return to the court. Fultz hadn’t played since Oct. 23 due to a scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder and was making enough progress that he was participating in full-contact 5-on-5 drills.
There were even rumors that Fultz could make his return to the court during the Sixers recent game against the Boston Celtics in London last Thursday. And if not then, the possibly as soon as Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. matinee against the Toronto Raptors.
Looks like that was all wishful thinking.
On Sunday after practice, head coach Brett Brown addressed the media in regards to Fultz and where he is on his timetable for a return and he ended up throwing cold water on the hopes of a lot of fans.
“I don’t know if we could say it’s 100 percent. The doctors could say that better than me. But it certainly is getting better, enough where they’ve allowed him to practice and shoot threes and pretty much do everything that the team does.”
The more distressing news came when Brown was asked about Fultz’s shot and if they had managed to fix the massive issues the guard was having with it before he was sidelined.
“How would I assess where his shot is currently at? It’s not where it used to be. It’s not where it used to be. His free throw, I think, is. But some of the longer shots and the rise ups are not. And that’s just part of him getting through this sort of a progressive adjustment, trying to figure out the injury going forward. But I think that it isn’t. The free throw is.”
In other words, as long as opponents foul Fultz a whole lot, the Sixers should be fine. But otherwise we could be in some trouble.
Fultz averaged 23.2 points in his final year at Washington, so the shooting used to be there, of that there is no question. The problem is if he can get it back or has the injury cause irreparable harm to his form.
For that everyone will have to wait and see. And it’s looking like we may be waiting and seeing for a while yet.
In fact, given the way the Sixers have handled injured rookies in the past, there is every possibility that Fultz might not suit up for the rest of the 2017-18 season.
Would that suck? Yes, on every conceivable level. But if Brown and the Sixers can fix whatever may be wrong with Fultz’s shot and it results in him becoming the final piece of the puzzle in the “The Process” it will be more than worth the wait.
It’s not like Sixers fans don’t have a lot of experience waiting at this point.