The Curious Case of Markelle Fultz

We’re only 1 week into the NBA season and there seems to be a ton of concern with the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz. It’s not the struggling and/or rookie adjustment aspect about Fultz that has fans worried but it’s the changed shooting formation that is sending everyone into a frenzy.

It’s very clear to see that Fultz isn’t the guy we saw at Washington or even the NBA Summer League just a few months ago. What seems to be garnering the most attention is the unattractive and ineffective shooting formation which only occurs at the free throw line.

If you followed Fultz on the collegiate level you would know he wasn’t a great free throw shooter to begin with, converting on just 64.9% of attempts. The form that is shown above seems to be exclusively at the free throw line though as Markelle’s jumper in flow of the offense seems much more smoother. So I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t be overly worried about this.

What worries me if anything though is the new shooting tendencies. Fultz has been noticeably passing up wide open attempts.

Markelle and the Sixers staff claim the weird shooting formation at the line is stemmed from a shoulder injury the rookie suffered in a Preseason matchup against the Grizzlies, which can be the reason for his passiveness when it comes to shooting the ball.  But then if so why is he playing?

This “excuse” as some may call it seems believable. It was known that Fultz was changing his shooting formation throughout the Draft process but as we saw in the 2017 Summer League, he was still the shooter/scorer we saw from Washington. Fultz’ Summer League tenure ended prematurely due to an ankle sprain on July 8th, and was ruled out for 1-2 weeks. In late July, Fultz claimed rehab was going very well and the ankle was great.

So if we can claim Fultz was fully healthy on August 1st that’d give the rookie a little over 2 months to completely destroy his beautiful shooting stroke, which seems very unlikely. Coach Brown did mention he wasn’t happy with the rookies shooting formation in early October but I refuse to believe a pure scorer can lose his ability to shoot effectively that quickly.

But back to the question of why is he still playing? If this injury is hindering him from the best aspect of his game, he shouldn’t be on the court. The Sixers organization who have gone through hell and back when it comes to injuries should be the first to know this.

Regardless, it’s definitely a mind boggling situation.


Going outside of the shooting formation and tendencies, there’s Fultz poor production, which obviously can be a result from this shoulder injury. Rookies especially ones of the guard variety tend to struggle early on so don’t think it’s unusual for such a young talented player to struggle.

Below are notable players in their rookie years that Fultz received comparison to coming out of the collegiate ranks. Whether he follows a similar path or not remains to be seen.

Markelle Fultz:
6.0ppg 2.3rpg 1.8apg 33%fg (19mins per)
*Only 4 games

Photo credits: Rob Carr/Getty

James Harden:
First 4 games- 5.5ppg 2.0rpg 3.2apg 30%fg (15mins per)
Rookie Season- 9.9ppg 3.2rpg 1.8apg 40.3%fg (22mins per)

Photo credit: ESPN

Brandon Roy:
First 4 games- 14.5ppg 3.5rpg 4.2apg 38%fg (32mins per)
Rookie Season- 16.8ppg 4.4rpg 4.0apg 45.6%fg (35.4mins per)

Dangelo Russell:
First 4 games- 8.5ppg 2.5rpg 2.7apg 34%fg (23mins per)
Rookie Season- 13.2ppg 3.4rpg 3.3apg 41%fg (28.2mins per)

Photo credits: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)


Jordan Lawson

Jordan is the founder of Sports Are Philly and a current student at Misericordia University.

You can follow him on Twitter @darealjlaw.

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