Before the selection was made official, the Sixers hosted Fultz out for a pre-draft workout. After finalizing the trade for the 1st pick, Colangelo and the Sixers were ready to welcome Fultz with open arms and hosted a workout designed to be nothing more than a showcase for the media. The red carpet was put down and Fultz just had to hit a few jump shots and run up and down the court a few times.
Spoiler Alert: The workout did not go well.
With his soon-to-be teammates and coaches watching from the sidelines, Fultz tossed up a bunch of bricks from beyond the outside and the first signs of his shot not looking right showed face. With the Sixers trying to paint Fultz in the best light possible, there is very limited footage of the workout, but there certainly was a surprising feeling of pessimism from media members after this workout.
Time With Sixers
As expected, Markelle Fultz became the 4th 1st overall pick in Sixers franchise history. From the start, it was clear that Markelle did not look like the same kid that played for Washington. Whether it be thoracic outlet syndrome, a case of the yips, or another factor that may never go public- Fultz seemingly forgot how to play basketball to the level that he previously showed to be capable of playing.
Fultz’ transition into the NBA was one of the most unique stories in NBA history. Typically when a projected star in the draft turns out to be a bust (which I fully place Markelle in that category) there is a clear reason for the trouble transitioning.
Whether it be not being able to play to the speed of the NBA, a lack of physical development, or a failure to put the pieces together, there is usually some sort of pin-point reason for why the player didn’t work or wasn’t good enough.
For the Sixers, it looked as if Markelle Fultz was a completely different player than the guy they drafted. Sixers assistant coach Llyod Pierce went as far as saying, “I’ve never seen anything like that before. The kid can’t shoot.”
The Sixers claim that the injury originated from changing his shot, which occurred on his own account and without their knowledge. Fultz’ trainer adamantly denies making any sort of changes to his shooting form and even doubled down on this on a podcast this week. Even the workouts from new trainer Drew Hanlen, who has been credited with helping NBA players like Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, and Zach Lavine could not bring Fultz’s shot to the smooth stroke that it once was.
In total Markelle Fultz stayed with the Sixers for 2 years and played in just 33 games. While there were brief bright spots, such as becoming the youngest player to ever record a triple-double, Fultz’s time in Philadelphia leaves more questions than answers. After doing so much to make Markelle a Sixers, he was shipped off to Orlando for what turned out to be Jonathon Simmons and a second-round pick. The drama continued to surround Markelle and it was rightly decided that what was left of his talent would best be served elsewhere.
Impact of Fultz Era
While many look at his time in Orlando as being Fultz breaking free from the “Bust” label that has been pinned on his forehead, he is still far from the player that he was expected to be. There are moments where you can squint your eyes and see the player he used to be, but the flaws in his game are still there.
Yes, Fultz took over as starting point guard with the Magic this year and averaged 12.1 points and 5.1 assists. Yet his career 3 point shooting percentage still sits at 26.7% and the highest percentage he shot in a season was actually with the Sixers where he hit 3’s at 28.6%. Compared to a league average of 35.8% and the 42% rate he hit them at in college this still does not feel great. The confidence he once oozed when he had the ball is no longer there and his willingness to shoot is still nowhere close to what it once was. There will always be short flashes where Markelle looks terrific but the time to fully put the pieces together continues to tick away.
The story of Markelle Fultz is one that will never had the ending it deserved. For the Sixers, it was the right pick at the time. If Markelle had turned out to be the player that he was expected to be, it is likely the Sixers are in a much more promising place than the situation they are in now. The stars had aligned for The Process to be complete and the uniting partner to be put between Simmons and Embiid. Whatever the reason, Fultz did not have it in his time to Philly.
While conspiracy theories such as him falling off a motorcycle or his overprotective mom swirl around the internet, it is likely the public will never find out what happened to Markelle’s shot. In fact Markelle may not even be sure himself. Regardless of what happened, Fultz and his disappearing jump shot will go down as one of the strangest stories in NBA history and the biggest “What If” for the Sixers in The Process Era.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire
Lifelong Philly Sports fan and current college student at Alvernia University. Writes about Sixers and Phillies and Co-Host of Pick Swap Podcast
Twitter: @Sean_Barnard1 and @PickSwapPod