Markelle Fultz has a free throw problem. Don’t take my word for it; just look at this.
RT if Markelle Fultz has a worse Free Throw motion than Shaq. pic.twitter.com/wyYgU99m5z— Clever Hoops (@CleverHoops) October 18, 2017
This has been a storyline for about a month now, and Fultz has been asked about it several times. He has mentioned a shoulder injury, and we’ve speculated it might be causing him more trouble than he’s letting on. His head coach, Brett Brown, said at the start of the month that he’s “not comfortable” with where his free throw is. Clearly, Fultz’s shot won’t work.
That release above, from the 76ers season opener against the Boston Celtics, is even slightly different from this release earlier in preseason, around the time Brown said that he wasn’t comfortable with the stroke. It starts lower than the one above.
Interesting how dramatically different Markelle Fultz's FT stroke looks here compared to @ UW (65%). Has lowered release point considerably. pic.twitter.com/6REIFX0qtR— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) September 28, 2017
Both are bad. There’s no fluidity to the release, and it looks almost Shaquille O’Neal-like — Fultz brings the ball up to a spot, and then he releases. Two separate, distinct actions: one, two. You’d like it to flow together more smoothly than that. At Washington, Fultz’s form did!
The concern is whether this extends to the rest of his game
Fultz didn’t hit a three-pointer in preseason yet, either. (He only attempted three.) At Washington, Fultz was a threat to pull up off the dribble at any time, one of the biggest reasons why he went first overall to Philadelphia. If he can’t do that right now, that dramatically worsens his game — he’s a fluid athlete, but not a dynamic enough one that can rely solely on that.
Here's a reminder of how dynamic Markelle Fultz's live dribble pull up game was at Washington. Confident that he'll return to form in time. pic.twitter.com/t9IoDCnA7H— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) October 18, 2017
Fultz missed both of those free throws in his one trip to the line. Shoulder injury or not, this is a real concern for him. He looks spooked at the line, and that’s definitely not a good thing, especially given how much free throws end up being a mental thing.
Still, concern doesn’t need to hit full fledged panic mode just yet. Fultz has proven his ability to shoot in the past, and he should figure this out. We’re hoping so, anyway.