Oh, are you enjoying the process? The Sixers just signed Joel Embiid to an extension, Ben Simmons looks great, and we’re about to watch meaningful basketball for the first time in five years, or, if you prefer, 15 years. What could possibly rain on this parade? Oh hey, there’s the number one overall pick wearing that Kerri Walsh tape that holds his shoulder together probably doesn’t actually do anything.

Today, the sound of a drumbeat percolates from the forest. It may just be an alpha bear paddling his mistress over a stump (do bears spank in the woods?), or it may be a marching band making its way through the trees to alert the masses with a big sign: THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH MARKELLE FULTZ’S SHOULDER!

We’ve heard plenty about Fultz changing his shot over the summer, apparently on his own, but now it seems like a shoulder injury which kept him out Friday night could have something to do with that pesky shooting thing.

Here’s Brett Brown talking to the media after the game last night. From Philly.com:

“I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body.”

There were a few times that Brown thought Fultz looked good on his jump shots. But he acknowledged that you can tell the pain is bothering him by his free throws and his lack of three-point shooting.

“Maybe it’s a sign that it’s hurting a little bit more than he lets on,” Brown said.


Kevin O’Connor heard that as well, and relayed the following from Fultz. From The Ringer:

After Fultz left the locker room, I asked him if the shoulder issue motivated him to revise his free throw mechanics, to minimize the pain he feels when he raises his arm. Fultz said, “Yeah, for the most part. I’m just trying other things to make free throws. At the end of the day, that’s not an excuse for me. I’m just out there hooping.”

OK so now we have two tacit acknowledgements that Fultz’s shoulder injury (soreness? pain? INFLAMMATION?) is impacting his shot, to the tune of him not making one three-pointer in two preseason games, and not even attempting one last night. Is that because of a lack of confidence due to his new mechanics? Are the new mechanics the result of pain? Is he not shooting because of the pain, or the mechanics? Is this the worst series of rhetorical questions about Fultz, a guy who was drafted number one overall precisely because of his ability to score from all three levels?

And while Brown is getting credit for being forthcoming here, Kevin did ask him last week if we were making too much out of Fultz’s shooting, and Brown said yes. So which is it? And how much is there to be concerned about? Probably not as much as Bill Simmons thinks there is:

The Sixers’ medical staff has not done anything to help their case, but the team did hire renowned doctor Daniel Medina from Barcelona last month, and while he didn’t bring an entirely new staff with him, it sounds like he will oversee a comprehensive approach to treatment– from diet to the training table. So it’s worth nothing that whatever issues plagued the Sixers’ medical staff before, there is a new guy in charge who will presumably do a better job of both identifying and treating issues if the player is forthcoming about them.

Whatever the case, the fact is Markelle Fultz has a vague shoulder injury, and it may be affecting his shot, which he seems hesitant (hesi?) to take.