Sixers first overall draft pick Markelle Fultz has had a downright nightmarish start to his NBA career, with his free-throw form devolving into something akin to rave dancing, and his jumper—a hugely significant part of his pre-draft hype—disappearing altogether. We learned eventually that these changes were due to some sort of mysterious shoulder injury. Today we’ve learned that this injury will keep Fultz out of action indefinitely.
The Sixers shelved Fultz Wednesday morning after finally acknowledging the shoulder injury, but the initial reports said he’d just miss three games or so before being reevaluated. Today’s report finally puts a name on Fultz’s injury—scapular muscle imbalance—and indicates that we won’t see Fultz again until his shoulder is healed enough for him to shoot a damn jumper. If you’ve been wondering just what the hell the Sixers are doing with Fultz, today’s update probably registers as good news—watching his game shrivel nightly as his jumper vanished was one of the real blights on the early part of this NBA season.
This sequence has been alarming, for Sixers fans and for people who look forward to watching young, talented basketball players develop into superstar professionals. Someday I would like to learn exactly what prevented the Sixers from pulling Fultz ages ago, when a dramatic change in his free-throw shooting form signaled the first signs of trouble. Reports since then seemed to indicate a certain amount of skepticism over whether Fultz in fact had any injury at all, but even if the shoulder was perfectly healthy, sending him out to play with a mangled, unrecognizable jumper and a massive confidence deficit cannot have been good for his long-term development.