For months, multiple videos of Philadelphia 76ers rookie Markelle Fultz attempting to shoot a basketball have emerged.
The No. 1 pick has played in just four games this year and has spent most of the season nursing a confusing shoulder injury.
Now in the late stages of his recovery, some major question marks have arisen.
What's up with his shot? Will he get back on the court this season? Will he ever look like the player he was in college?
Last week, Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo said that Fultz’s current shooting range was “within the paint” and that the rookie was continuing to rebuild and recreate his shooting motion. Fultz has apparently not been able to regain his muscle function and coordination in his shoulder which has led to a painfully-obvious inability to shoot.
Since typical rehab techniques have not seemed to work, Philadelphia has had to think outside the box when it comes to getting him back on the right track.
According to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com, they’ve enlisted the help of virtual reality, a growing trend in the sporting world.
“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,” Neubeck wrote.
He continued, “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.”
It remains to be seen if the strategy benefits Fultz or if his struggles continue. If he is able to return to the court at full strength, he might be able to help the Sixers not only get into the playoffs, but possibly make some noise after they get there. If not, some major concerns will exist for the rest of the season and throughout the summer.