Markelle Fultz has finally returned to action for the Philadelphia 76ers, and his timing couldn’t have been better.
Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick from the 2017 NBA draft, returned to the court for the first time since Nov. 10 two nights ago against the Denver Nuggets. He missed 61 games dealing with a shoulder problem that ended up derailing his jump shot completely.
Fultz was supposed to be a great offensive addition to the Philadelphia 76ers, who already featured young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The biggest problem facing the Sixers was perimeter shooting, and Fultz was a marksman at Washington during his lone year there. He was expected to round out the young core as an instant-offense guard.
Things did not pan out as Philly hoped.
Markelle had a debilitating shoulder issue during the preseason. It threw off his shooting form entirely, and he needed five months to get himself back onto the court. During his time off the court, he occasionally was recorded shooting basketballs in a practice gym. And the results were… depressing. @TheRenderNBA put his shooting form from months ago next to a video of a shot last night below:
Markelle Fultz shooting form from a few months ago vs last night pic.twitter.com/cux6J4hZSS
— The Render (@TheRenderNBA) March 27, 2018
Where once was an offensive stud, now was a complete question mark. Many in the basketball universe predicted the physical and mental toll of the injury would be a career-long issue. The Sixers were very secretive about Fultz’s recovery, and the news he would end up playing Monday night came out of nowhere. Twitter blew up as the NBA world prepared to watch the first pick take the floor.
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) March 26, 2018
Fultz looked surprisingly awesome. While the jumper is a work in progress, even after five months of recovery, his athleticism and high-level ball handling were on display.
After a turnover in his first possession, Markelle finished with 10 points and eight assists. He was quick, fluid, and aggressive. He finished two contested layups, pulled out his favorite dribble move where he spins off the defender into a leaning jumper—and even got one to fall.
He didn’t take any ranged jumpers, though, and hasn’t taken a three-pointer all year in five games.
The next step is continuing to work on his ranged shooting, but he will most likely not be a positive player this year. He has around 10 more games in the regular season to get rid if the five-month rust. If he is used in the playoffs, it is most likely going to be in a limited capacity.
But for a Sixers team in need of a little offensive juice, Fultz’s return was a healthy dose of good news.