It is no secret that Markelle Fultz’s rookie season was one of the most obscure storylines of the 2017-18 NBA season.
Ever since Fultz was drafted first overall by the Sixers last June, there hasn’t been much to celebrate so far in his young career. The former University of Washington phenom played just 17 total games in his first professional season, averaging seven points, four assists, and three rebounds in those contests. But the statistic that speaks the loudest to how Fultz’s year went is his total amount of 3-point field goals made: zero.
Fultz sustained a shoulder injury before the season, which contributed to his troubles shooting the basketball. Due to a combination of this lack of a jump shot throughout the season and his absence for 68 regular season games, the 20-year old is already widely regarded as a bust.
Arguably the most unfortunate part of the whole situation is that many Sixers fans have already given up hope on a kid who can’t even legally buy a beer yet.
Fultz graduated high school just two years ago. Just last year he was the consensus best player available in the draft. One lost season should not be considered the end of the world for his career in the NBA.
A very encouraging development has been Fultz’s relationship with established trainer Drew Hanlen. The well-respected skills coach has helped many NBA stars improve their game, such as Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, and some guy by the name of Joel Embiid. The young guard has seemingly been spending many hours in the gym with Hanlen, working primarily to revive his jump shot.
“We’re way ahead of pace where I thought we were going to be, I thought it was going to take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot, and we’re already starting to shoot with a jump in week two,” Hanlen said. “It’s not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he’ll be back rolling and he’ll show people why he was the No. 1 pick.”
For those who prefer to rely on solid video evidence rather than succumbing to hype, there is unfortunately nothing that has surfaced just yet in regards to the improving jump shot. However, Fultz uploaded a mini montage of dribble moves and fancy finishes onto his Snapchat story late Saturday night that serve as a small reminder of his raw talent and explosiveness.
The Sixers did not trade two first round picks to draft Markelle Fultz #1 overall solely because they liked his jump shot. He did shoot 48% overall and 41% from 3-point range at Washington, but set himself apart with his unique athleticism, flashes of acrobatic finishing, and playmaking ability. None of these skills have been compromised, and that is why Fultz was able to become the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double at just 19 years and 317 days old.
The Sixers are no strangers to waiting on their young talent to emerge. After all, their two young superstars missed a combined three seasons before seeing any NBA action at all. So why get impatient now? If there is one thing we have learned as Sixers fans, it is to Trust. The. Damn. Process.
EHTHS ‘15 -> MSU ‘19
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