Have you ever found a caterpillar, fed and nurtured it in a jar, seen it through its cocoon phase, watched it emerge as a nice butterfly, and then released it into the wild with a happy little hop? Maybe Markelle Fultz did a lot of that back in the day because that’s how he shoots a damn free throw now:
Fultz shot 65 percent from the line in his one season at Washington, maybe a little dubious depending on how you feel about free-throw percentage as a predictor of NBA shooting, but not too worrisome for a 19-year-old who also shot 41 percent from three and has plenty of years ahead to refine his mechanics. Here’s what his free throws looked like back then—not pretty, but at least he was attempting to use parts of the human body below the torso.
In preseason Fultz has reportedly felt persistent soreness in his right shoulder, which might explain why he’s rejiggered his stroke, even if he won’t openly admit it. “I wouldn’t say it’s making any effects on the floor, because I’m playing through stuff like that,” Fultz said last night. Meanwhile, coach Brett Brown was quicker to draw that connection, dropping some slightly eyebrow-raising quotes last week, and following up with some more after Sunday’s scrimmage:
No, and so we’re gonna get back on track. His heart is in the right place. All by himself, he pivoted out over the summer and tried to make it better and tweak it, and he’s in a place right now where we’re gonna try to remind him where his shot was and try to bring that back into probably more a tighter shot, bring his release point down a little bit, bring the ball closer to his body. We have a Team Markelle all around him to help him, and he’s gonna be just fine.
If you’re worried that the Chik-fil-A Enjoyer is steering his game in the wrong direction— he’s shooting sub-30 percent from the floor so far in the preseason—just try and envision all the fucked-up baby birds he’s nursed back to health. Be free!