Markelle Fultz and his longtime trainer, confidant and family friend, Keith Williams, made significant alterations to his shooting form in the months leading up to the start of the Sixers’ season, according to multiple sources who spoke to The Athletic on the condition of anonymity. These changes were described as an effort to quicken his shot, shorten the dip in his shooting mechanics and bring his set point over to the right side of his body, according to sources with knowledge of the changes Fultz made over the summer.
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Fultz and Williams returned to the gym at the conclusion of the Las Vegas Summer League in July, where they continued working to alter the former Washington guard’s jumper through the beginning of September, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. When Fultz returned to the team in the middle of September his lack of confidence in his new jump shot was immediately apparent, according to multiple sources. The team’s efforts to revert Fultz back to the shooting form he showed at Washington began almost immediately.
Williams is no stranger to grooming NBA prospects, having worked extensively with the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Lonny Baxter, Marcus Thornton and many more. Reached by The Athletic, Williams denied having made significant changes to Fultz’s shot since he left Washington. Williams does acknowledge they have worked on what he said were a few minor alterations, including limiting the dip at the beginning of his shooting motion.
Over the course of the last six months, PhillyVoice has spoken to people in, around, and connected to the Sixers about what is going on with the kid who was supposed to be the final piece of their puzzle. What is most striking is the degree to which opinions on Fultz’s shot diverge depending on who it is you ask. Doctors explain how unprecedented this is for a basketball player, staffers point the finger at outside influences, and his own GM says publicly his range does not currently extend beyond the paint. All the while our subject in question remains silent, retweeting videos of what his shot used to look like as an avalanche of criticism floods his Twitter mentions. Markelle Fultz is surrounded by sound and fury. And once you begin to understand that, the disappearance of his jumper makes a lot more sense.
Comment or not, the evidence suggests someone is not being truthful here. Members of the organization expressed their frustration with Williams over the course of the last six months, viewing him as at least a portion of the problem. “Markelle left [the Sixers] at the end of July, and the shot looked fine from our view until he showed up for training camp,” one source told PhillyVoice in mid-November. “He wasn’t working by himself all that time.”
The Sixers, according to multiple people who spoke with PhillyVoice for this story, believe they are one of a small group of NBA teams with a setup that allows them to train players in virtual reality. It is something the organization has been toying with over the last half year or so, which they believe is primarily useful to help put players inside a game situation, like being part of an inbounds play. It is a way to keep them involved in the program when they can’t participate physically, as they’ve done with injured rookie Furkan Korkmaz.
With Fultz, there is a different motivation to get him behind the VR goggles. The Sixers, according to multiple sources, wanted him to be able to visualize the mechanics he’ll use in a game, to remember how easy it once was for him to rise up with the ball and shoot from anywhere on the court, and to be able to do so without the glare of the cameras or other people around him. With pressure coming down on him from all angles, turning part of a teenager’s job into a video game is one way to relieve the stress of the situation.
His reemergence in front of the public is also partially a product of his own desire to be out there and carrying on like normal, according to sources who spoke with PhillyVoice. Just as Joel Embiid has some autonomy in whether he suits up for a game, Fultz holds a lot of power in how his situation is handled. He does not want to be known as the kid who backed down from the challenge, knowing he has already overcome plenty to get here at all. The Sixers have currently chosen to empower that, rather than letting a teenager become consumed by inner demons away from the spotlight.
Some reports have (incorrectly) claimed or assumed this is the same thing as an imbalance. This is not the case, and in fact, a muscular imbalance can be a causative factor in dyskinesis. The Sixers already claimed the imbalance was fixed in early December, and sources who spoke to PhillyVoice confirmed the dyskinesis diagnosis Butler used as correct. We continue to see a problem that comes and goes in his shot, changing based on his distance from the hoop and whether he’s static or on the move. Dyskinesis remains, which is a small but critical detail in tying the various causes of his missing shot together.
Sources around the NBA have said that folks inside the organization have been telling league colleagues since October that it was mental. But if you needed any confirmation, it came during the Sixers’ ESPN televised game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 28. That’s when broadcaster Mark Jones said Sixers coach Brett Brown disclosed in a production meeting that Fultz was suffering from “psychosomatic effects” with his shooting. Translation: Jones said Brown acknowledged that Fultz has a mental block and psychological conflict that prevents him from shooting correctly.
Jones tweeted the follow night that Brown never actually used the word “psychosomatic.” However, his tweet didn’t deny that the coach told him it was a mental thing for the University of Washington product.
Sixers never fulfilled their obligation to make Fultz available to the public within a week after announcing that he would be sidelined for an extended period in October. The team still refuses to make him available to explain. However, the Sixers didn’t block an interview with TNT on Tuesday night that was set up by his agent. During that interview with Caron Butler, Fultz said he’s trying to “relearn” his shot.
“He’s working his [butt] off,” Redick said after Friday’s shootaround. “I understand that fans want to see his progress, but this is maybe going to a longer process than we all hoped for. He may be back on the court soon. I don’t know. That’s not my thing. “But I don’t get the coming in here every day to like watch him shoot pull-up jumpers. That’s a little obsessive.”
Jessica Camerato: Bryan Colangelo on Markelle Fultz: “There’s always a chance that he’s going to be out there soon, and there’s a chance that he’s not going to play this year. I can’t answer that question because we don’t know the answer to that.”
Derek Bodner: Other quick notes on Fultz: – They still don’t know if changing the shot caused the injury or if the injury caused the changed shot. – No timeline. Could come back in days or could be out the season. – Has to completely rebuild the muscle memory in his shooting mechanics
Bryan Fonseca: Markelle Fultz really working on the basics ahead of #Sixers vs #Nets tonight. @NetsDaily @DefPenHoops @SBNationNBA #NBA
ESPN’s Mark Jones and Doris Burke served as the broadcasters for Sunday’s Sixers-Thunder matchup. During the game, the duo referenced Fultz and the No. 1 pick’s recovery from a shoulder ailment that has limited him to just four games this season. “Brett Brown was telling us prior to the game tonight, prior to tip, that he speaks with Fultz, he works with Fultz and there seems to be some psychosomatic issues involved with getting over the hump and getting back on the court,” Jones said. “Brown says he continues to improve and he would expect that he would play at some point this year.” “I’m worried about the young man,” Burke added. “Nineteen years old. He clearly seems to be shaken where that jump shot is concerned. You just hope his confidence gets back where it needs to be.”
“It was completely misquoted. There was no reference to any of that,” Brown said before Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. “I’ve spoken with ESPN this morning. They’re very apologetic.” “Markelle Fultz’s injury has been well-documented. I have talked about this hundreds and hundreds of times. The story hasn’t wavered once. His shot has been affected by the injury. We’re trying to reclaim it. There are times when he rises up to shoot that he does feel a bite and it affects him. It’s really that simple.”
Keith Pompey: #Sixers guards @Markelle Fultz, @JJ Redick and @Furkan Korkmaz did not make the trip to Memphis.
The 19-year-old’s shooting stroke is so ugly and ineffective he remains sidelined even as he regains his health following a right shoulder injury. “I’m old, and I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said Monday of Fultz’s lost shot. “I really haven’t.”
Brown, who calls himself “a shooting coach at heart,” vows to help Fultz rediscover his shot. He plans to spend extra time with him at practice. The team has shielded Fultz from reporters since he was sidelined. “He’s a rise-up guy. He’s a live ball, off-the-dribble, rise-up guy. A Kyle Korver type, that wasn’t who he was,” Brown said. “He was a wiggly, do-what-he-wants-to-guard. So you go back and you say, ‘How can you find that again?'”
Jessica Camerato: During today’s media availability after practice, Markelle Fultz looked more effective driving the basket than pulling up for threes. Brett Brown on his shot: “It’s not where it used to be. His free throw, I think, is. But some of the longer shots and the rise ups are not.”
Derek Bodner: Brett Brown on Markelle Fultz’s shoulder: “I don’t know if we could say it’s 100%, the doctors could say that better than me, but it certainly is getting better.” Reporter: Does it need to be 100% for him to play? Brown: “I think what he needs to be is able to shoot a basketball.”
Fultz will miss his 35th consecutive game when the Sixers (19-19) “host” the Boston Celtics on Thursday afternoon at The 02 Arena here. The team said it’s unclear when he’ll return.
While he’s eager to play, the combo guard is elated to at least have joined his teammates in five-on-five scrimmages the past four days. However, he has yet to be cleared for full practices while rehabilitating from left shoulder soreness and muscle imbalance and working on his shot.
Markelle Fultz played full contact 5-on-5 during Sixers practice Sunday in Camden. Though still not considered a full-practice participant because of some small restrictions, Fultz looked good in his full contact play said coach Brett Brown.
Jessica Camerato: Brown said he does not expect Fultz to return to play for the game in London.
Michael C. Wright: From the Sixers: guard Markelle Fultz has been cleared to begin final stage of his return-to-play program. The program consists of gradual re-integration into team practices and training, complemented with additional conditioning work to support fitness readiness for gameplay.
Keith Pompey: #Sixers @Ben Simmons on @Markelle Fultz: “I know he wants to get out there. He can’t wait. I’m looking forward to playing with him just because the start of the season, you could see a lot of potential with him.I think we’re going to have a great chemistry once he gets back.”
Rehabbing rookie point guard Markelle Fultz is traveling with the Philadelphia 76ers on their West Coast road trip and is expected to take on more basketball activities, including team drills, on the trip.
There is still no timetable on an actual return to action, sources tell ESPN. Fultz, the No. 1 selection in the 2017 draft, has played in just four games this season because of a scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. The Sixers shut down the point guard following a game on Oct. 23.
Jessica Camerato: Fultz walked by Brown as he was talking about the rookie’s health and status. “Put me in coach!” Fultz called out. “He’s engaged and he’s got a fantastic personality. He’s really got a charisma, personality that I think can grow into being a very respected leader,” Brown said.
Mike O’Connor: Colangelo on Fultz: “The soreness is completely gone. The muscle imbalance is completely gone.” Says there’s no timeline on his return, but “we anticipate that the end is near.”
Tom Moore: Brown: Still no timetable with Fultz. No update on his shoulder. #Sixers
Jessica Camerato: Markelle Fultz is back from Kentucky and with the Sixers. Brett Brown said his basketball activity was “minimal” on Wednesday. “We are just happy to have him back. I felt like I haven’t seen him in a long time,” Brown said.
Markelle Fultz is rehabilitating his right shoulder under the supervision of surgeon Ben Kibler at the Shoulder Center of Kentucky in Lexington. The 76ers combo guard arrived in Kentucky on Wednesday and will partake in physical therapy for a couple of days. He’s scheduled to return to the Philadelphia area later this week. Fultz is expected to go back to Kentucky in the next week or two to have his shoulder re-evaluated.
Jessica Camerato: Anderson, Fultz, Stauskas out tonight for Sixers.
The 76ers are expected to provide an update on Markelle Fultz’s right shoulder on Sunday. The first-overall pick in June’s NBA draft is in Lexington, Ky., this weekend to be reevaluated by surgeon Ben Kibler at the Shoulder Center of Kentucky. Kilber determined that Fultz had scapular muscle imbalance in addition to soreness in his shoulder during his first visit there on Oct. 29. Kilber is expected to reexamine Fultz’s shoulder on Sunday.
The guard previously visited two Major League Baseball doctors who specialize in shoulder injuries. All three doctors confirmed that there’s no structural damage in his shoulder.
Jessica Camerato: Bayless (wrist), Fultz (shoulder), Stauskas (ankle) out tonight. Okafor (upper respiratory) doubtful.
The Sixers have given Fultz assignments during the games. He is tasked with watching numerous elements on the floor from a distance. They hold him accountable outside the arena, too. As a guard in the Sixers’ system, Fultz could be asked to run the floor, which creates an even bigger need to keep up with the schemes. “We challenge him a little bit,” Robert Covington said. “Even though he’s not playing, he still has to see what’s happening. He’s doing a good job. We ask at various times, on the bench, we catch him off guard. He handles them very well. He’s engaged even though he’s not on the court. One thing I can say is even though he’s not playing, he’s still learning a lot.”
Keith Pompey: Nik Stauskas, Jerryd Bayless and Markelle Fultz are out tonight vs. #GoldenStateWarriors.
This series of mysterious events would seem to be even more rare for a player whose talent was worthy of making him the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Yet this is what has happened to the Philadelphia 76ers’ Markelle Fultz. Quite simply, it’s baffling. “This is not normal,” an Eastern Conference general manager told Bleacher Report. “It’s perplexing.”
“That doesn’t add up at all,” Tim DiFrancesco, the co-founder of TD Athletes Edge who served as the Los Angeles Lakers’ head strength and conditioning coach for six seasons, told B/R. “Lots of players at the NBA level have scapular imbalance or a lack of appropriately conditioned muscles that attach to the shoulder blades, therefore leading to poor scapular mechanics.”
In addition to Colangelo’s suggestion that the altered shooting mechanics may have caused the pain, a league source told B/R that another theory the team is entertaining is that something happened to Fultz between summer league and the start of training camp—or, something new was introduced into Fultz’s offseason training.
Jessica Camerato: Markelle Fultz met with multiple specialists, including two Major League Baseball team doctors. They confirmed no structural damage.
Royce Young: The 76ers say Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely with shoulder soreness and “scapular muscle imbalance.”
Tom Moore: #Sixers Fultz injury update. Out indefinitely & will be re-evaluated in 3 weeks:
Tom Moore: #Sixers Brown on Fultz out indefinitely: ‘I’m glad for him.’
Keith Pompey: #Sixers coach Brett Brown on if he feels @Markelle Fultz was shut down too late:”I don’t know. I don’t know.”
Tom Moore: Brett Brown says he ‘doesn’t remember’ if he was told about Fultz having cortisone shot in right shoulder Oct. 5. #Sixers
Sixers guard Markelle Fultz will miss the next three games because of what the team is calling right shoulder soreness. The first overall pick will be re-evaluated next Tuesday. The teams is hopeful that he’ll return after that.
Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said Fultz does not have any structural damage in the shoulder. Colangelo said the 19-year-old told the team that his shoulder was bothering him around the start of training camp in late September. Fultz received a cortisone shot Oct. 5, one day after finishing with four points on 2-for-13 shooting in a preseason-opening loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
.“I think we have been transparent,” Colangelo said. “I don’t know what prompted the comment by the agent to the report last night. We did have a communication about it after that. But again, there’s a lot of things that go into the noise that’s out there. Again, we are trying to do the best for Markelle and by Markelle to put him in a position to succeed.”
Derek Bodner: Markelle Fultz is out with right shoulder soreness. He will be reevaluated next Tuesday. #sixers
Keith Pompey: To be clear, Markelle Fultz will miss AT LEAST three games before being re-evaluated in a week.
Jessica Camerato: The Sixers are treating and monitoring Markelle Fultz for irritation and discomfort on a daily basis, according to team source.
The agent for Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz changed his explanation Tuesday night on the treatment the No. 1 overall pick has received on his right shoulder, revising his earlier statement that fluid was drained from it during the preseason.
“He had a cortisone shot on Oct. 5, which means fluid was put into his shoulder — not taken out,” agent Raymond Brothers told ESPN on Tuesday night. “My intention earlier was to let people know that he’s been experiencing discomfort. We will continue to work with (Sixers general manager) Bryan Colangelo and the medical staff.”
Cortisone shots are used to relieve pain and inflammation. Sixers officials confirmed to ESPN a treatment took place several weeks ago and Fultz’s inflammation and symptoms have improved. Second opinions also have confirmed the 76ers’ ongoing treatment plan of physiotherapy, team sources said.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, had fluid drained from his right shoulder and is planning to visit a specialist soon, his agent told ESPN on Tuesday. “Markelle had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder,” agent Raymond Brothers told ESPN. “He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”
No decision has been made about possibility of Fultz missing games in the immediate future, league sources said. Fultz had the shoulder drained prior to start of the regular season, which caused him to miss the end of the Sixers’ preseason schedule, Brothers said. “From a basketball perspective, it’s been encouraging to see that Markelle can get any shot he wants during the games, but he has been unable to shoot the ball,” Brothers told ESPN.
76ers coach Brett Brown was asked Monday if he had any concern that playing Markelle Fultz through his right shoulder injury would develop bad shooting habits. “No, I don’t,” Brown said before the game with the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesar’s Arena. “I’m advised mostly by the medical people. That’s what I get worried about the most, and nobody has any fears.”
The 19-year-old also avoids shooting from the outside despite having been a solid three-point shooter in college. “As I said to Markelle, this is not going to define you,” Brown said. “This first season is not going to define you. We are going to focus on all the other things that will define you.”
The Sixers may decide to continue playing Fultz if they feel he’s helping the team and the shoulder doesn’t get worse. Or they could decide to sit him after accepting the fact that the 19-year-old is hindered by the injury and will struggle until the shoulder gets better. As of this weekend, there hasn’t been any consideration given to sitting Fultz. “It’s not to the point where it’s affecting other parts of his game,” coach Brett Brown said.
Fultz tried to downplay his lack of three-point attempts earlier this month. “If I’m open from three, I’m going to shoot it,” Fultz said on Oct. 9. “If I got the mid-range, I’m going to pull it. So whatever play is right for me, I’m going to go do it.”
The Sixers front office is typically as transparent as a politician, but head coach Brett Brown is straightforward. At the start of Sixers training camp, when Fultz first showed off some wack shooting mechanics, he said he was just messing around, but Brown openly admitted he’d like to see Fultz get “back on track” by reverting to his old shooting form. Now, Brown has acknowledged the injury, too. “I think [his shoulder] is affecting him more than he lets on. You can tell with his free throw, trying to get that ball up. It’s far out from his body. He’s been working on trying to get that thing rehabilitated,” Brown said. “And the lack of the quantity of his 3-point shooting may be a sign that it’s hurting a little more than he’s letting on.”
His shooting mechanics during the game made it obvious that the 76ers point guard was still dealing with the soreness that had forced him to sit out Friday night’s game vs. the Celtics. However, he downplayed the injury after Monday’s setback. Fultz said that it was something he has to play through and that the team was making great strides every day to get it better. “I wouldn’t say it’s making any effects on the floor, because I’m playing through stuff like that,” he said. “Every day I come in, we just talk to the trainers and do stuff for it and just get better.”
“I think his shoulder is affecting him more than he lets on,” coach Brett Brown said. “You can tell with his free throw, you know, trying to get that ball up. Its follow from his body. “But he’s been working on just trying to get that thing rehabilitated.”
Sarah Todd: Markelle Fultz practiced in full and is probable for tomorrow against Boston. #Sixers
Keith Pompey: #Sixers guard @Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness) is listed as out for tonight’s game vs. #Celtics.
Keith Pompey: Fultz missed practice with right shoulder soreness.
Markelle Fultz used the “p” word again Saturday — as in “playoffs.” “I think we’re going to get back to the playoffs this year,” Fultz said. Fultz also said Saturday that he’s “100 percent” in the wake of suffering a lateral left ankle sprain in the Sixers’ July 8 NBA Summer League opener in Las Vegas.
“Rehab’s going real great,” the rookie said. “Everybody knows I sprained my ankle, but my ankle’s a lot better thanks to the training staff. I give big props to them, one of the best in the business. … I’ve been working out. I’ve been jumping, shooting, everything like that, so I’m real healthy, so I’m happy.”
Jessica Camerato: Fultz: “I’m walking around. Feel great.”
No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz will miss the rest of the NBA summer league because of a sprained left ankle. The Philadelphia 76ers say Fultz is expected to return to basketball activities in one to two weeks. Fultz tweeted Sunday : “I’m ok, thank you for all who where worried!”
Derek Bodner: #sixers announce x-rays on Fultz’s ankle negative, he suffered a lateral ankle sprain, and will resume normal bball activities in 1-2 weeks.
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February 20, 2018 | 12:15 am EST Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Brandon Rush has agreed to a 10-day contract with Portland, league source tells ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Brandon Rush played the past nine years in the NBA, but didn’t make the Milwaukee Bucks as a non-guaranteed player in training camp. He spent some time with Blazers this summer. He becomes the 14th man on Blazers roster.
Former Houston Rockets small forward Troy Williams has agreed to a 10-day contract with the Knicks on Monday night and is expected to join the team Wednesday, legendary AAU coach Boo Williams, Troy’s uncle, told SNY.tv. “Yeah, he agreed to a 10-day with them,” Boo Williams said by phone. “He had four other offers [including Portland and Dallas] but he wanted to go to New York.”
A second-year forward who went to Indiana, the 6-foot-7 Troy Williams has averaged 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 34 games (16 starts) with the Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies since the start of last season. “I’m not an NBA guy but I think he’ll bring athleticism, I think he’ll bring energy,” Boo Williams said. “And plus they’re a young team. Scott Perry has done a good job. You know Troy’s game, he’ll bring energy and athleticism.”
Boo Williams has known Knicks GM Scott Perry for two decades from his days as a college coach as Eastern Kentucky and Michigan. “He talked to his agent, Steve Pina,” Boo Williams said. “He’s the same one who represents [Kristaps] Porzingis. I think it’s a good fit. He just wants a place where he can play. I don’t think Houston wanted to get rid of [Troy Williams], but he just wanted a place where he could play. And he was doing too well in the G League. In Memphis, he started 13 games in Memphis.”
Dwain Price: Once again, @Dallas Mavericks F Harrison Barnes showed his humble side as he invited 150 kids to see Black Panther tonight at Studio Movie Grill in Dallas. Barnes said: “I was going to go see it anyway. So why not invite 100 kids, get a theater and we can all watch it together.”
February 19, 2018 | 10:36 pm EST Update
Ian Begley: Knicks are one of several teams to express interest in Troy Williams, per league sources. Williams is expected to make a decision on his next destination soon. The 23-year-old 6-7 wing was waived by Houston to make room for Joe Johnson. NYK has an open roster spot at the moment.