On Monday, Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard Markelle Fultz was seen shooting after practice with his left hand. Not just a jumper here and there, but actual three-pointers.
This is from legit three-point range with Fultz’s left hand pic.twitter.com/lhCXTKqd7I— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 6, 2017
To be clear: if he had done this once, i wouldn’t have bothered sharing. Every shot outside the paint he has put up has been left handed. https://t.co/LkO2KOBGjr— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 6, 2017
Here’s why that’s weird, if you’re out of the loop
Fultz is currently sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury that has created the most bizarre saga so far this season. Basically, the gist:
- His injured shoulder prevented him from shooting jumpers correctly.
- So he played three games for the Sixers to start the season without taking any.
- He adopted a bizarre and ineffective technique from the free throw line, and the team and player can’t agree on why.
- Then, Philadelphia shut him down, partly due to public pressure that said what they were doing was dumb. (I was part of that public pressure. It was dumb as hell.)
76ers head coach Brett Brown doesn’t think the lefty three-point shooting is a big deal.
Brett Brown says there’s nothing to read into with Fultz taking left handed jumpers we saw.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 6, 2017
BUT IT’S STILL EXTREMELY WEIRD. I don’t understand what’s happening and no one else seems to, either. Philadelphia beat reporters are even confused, although Neubeck offered some clarification here.
Some clarity on today: at this stage of his PT program, Fultz is not yet shooting right handed jumpers, per team source.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 6, 2017
The 76ers have clearly mishandled aspects of this saga, forcing Fultz’s agent to step in and clarify that there is an injury. (His agent then mishandled the actual statement, saying Fultz had fluid drained when he actually he a cortisone injection, adding to the ridiculousness of all this.)
Let’s clarify a few things.
- Fultz is likely just messing around after practice. He’s a 19-year-old who loves basketball and can’t shoot his normal, right-handed jumper right now.
- Still, is shooting left-handed from 25 feet productive? Is this reckless at all?
- If he’s going through drills, couldn’t he just not shoot?
- Off-handed shooting is a common drill for some elite shooters. Dirk Nowitzki shoots left-handed free throws in practice, for example. Fultz’s injury is apparently a shoulder imbalance, so it’s possible this is prescribed work. That doesn’t seem super likely, though.
We’re all high on Fultz’s future, and this shoulder debacle hasn’t changed anything. We aren’t suggesting that Fultz is changing his shooting hand, or anything like that.
It’s just strange. This is another strange thing in a strange story that has gone on for so long with no clear understanding of what exactly happened, and what needs to happen. At least we know Fultz is still on track to be reevaluated in a couple weeks.
Philadelphia has done itself absolutely no favors.
The 76ers created this saga by letting him play at less than 100 percent — he literally wouldn’t even shoot! — even if there wasn’t any risk of further injury. They mishandled it by saying it wasn’t an injury at all. The have directly countered Fultz’s agent’s story and said Fultz hurt his shoulder because he was changing his shooting form, which, even if true, isn’t the right move to publicly make. And it seems unlikely that it’s true, since Fultz was a fantastic shooter in college. Why would he ever try to change his shot?
We’ll hopefully see Fultz back on the court shooting normal jumpers with his normal hand and a healthy shoulder in a few weeks, and everyone will be glad to be this ridiculous saga behind us.
Let’s hope, for Fultz’s sake, that it doesn’t grow any more complicated.