The Sixers could sure use some shooting. In Sunday’s jarringly one-sided loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Sixers starters combined to produce zero made three-pointers on just six total attempts. On the season, Philadelphia’s starting lineup has attempted just 18 total three-pointers in 53 minutes of court time, through 10 games, per NBA stats. That’s horrible! You can’t have an efficient offense by modern NBA standards if you can’t even attempt threes.
The problem is that Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz can’t and won’t shoot from outside. Simmons has yet to attempt a three in a game this season, and Fultz has attempted just 13, and made just four. Fellow starters Dario Šarić, Bob Covington, and Joel Embiid can all shoot threes, but when a team’s two guards won’t even pretend to be threats from outside everything else that should be easy money for their teammates becomes challenging, because opponents can throw extra defenders their way and muck everything up. It’s especially a problem for Fultz, because he’s playing as a nominal shooting guard, and because he’s frankly not as good as Simmons at the rest of basketball, and if he also won’t shoot threes, there’s really no reason to have him on the floor at all. But recent evidence suggests that a Fultz jumper is more likely to bounce off a teammate’s cranium than it is to find the bottom of the net. Have a look at this slurve-looking monstrosity:
And it wasn’t even a three-pointer! Watch Fultz’s right foot—it was a 22-foot two-point jumper. How the hell can an NBA player do that? Fultz spent his summer working out with perimeter skills-whisperer Drew Hanlen—how is it possible that he’s still shooting like this? Hanlen dropped a clue in a since-deleted reply to an angry Sixers fan, revealing that Fultz is apparently “still not healthy”:
“Healthy” could really mean anything, here. Fultz could be dealing with some whole other injury that makes it hard for him to, umm, perform an essential basketball function in a manner that suggests he’s had arms for longer than a couple hours. Hanlen could be reaching for excuses to buy Fultz a little benefit of the doubt, or Fultz’s shoulder could still be a goopy sludge of rancid, minced meat and bone fragments. Either way, the Fultz experiment continues to look like a terrible mess.