NBA

Markelle Fultz has failed to impress but 76ers should accept some blame

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In a rare occurrence for a number one overall pick, the Philadelphia 76ers decided to start Markelle Fultz off the bench to start the season. 

He was expected to form the final piece of the 76ers jigsaw that would've placed him alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the starting line up.

With his early struggles, however, it's easy to see why head coach Brett Brown made the decision to blood the 19-year-old in slowly. 

He has the luxury of having another number one pick at his disposal as Simmons is in his rookie year following an entire campaign out with a foot injury after coming out of the 2016 draft. 

He has assumed point guard duties and made a terrific start to his NBA career to justify his coach's decision.

But Fultz's play off the Sixers bench has been a cause for concern for the franchise for many reasons. 

Shooting

It was apparent in college that the youngster had difficulties shooting free throws and he altered his form in the offseason in an effort to improve but it has only made things worse. 

He recently air-balled an attempt and it has led to ridicule from fans on social media and he has become an easy target. 

His three-point shooting can't be evaluated as he's yet to take one and has missed 13 of 16 shots taken outside of the restricted area.

Some have been quick to label Fultz as a bust or overrated already but it's unfair to make a judgment on such a young player after a handful of games. 

The early signs are not great, but the situation must be looked at closely and the team must accept some responsibility. 

Shoulder

The Washington product is playing with a shoulder injury at the moment and it is a huge reason why he's struggling to shoot the ball. 

On Tuesday, his agent told ESPN that the guard had fluid put into his shoulder during the pre-season.

"He had a cortisone shot on Oct. 5, which means fluid was put into his shoulder," his agent Raymond Brothers said.

Brothers also stated that he's been "experiencing discomfort" and is unable to "raise up his arms to shoot the basketball."

"He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team," he told Adrian Wojnarowski. "He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent."

If he's in so much pain and has had to change his shooting form as a result, the question is why is he even playing?

At this stage, we're still unsure what the actual injury is, how he sustained it and what the recovery period is as the 76ers have been very quiet about the situation. 

It's usually up to Brown to face the media and answer questions about his number one pick. Before their first win of the year against the Detroit Pistons on Monday, he said he had no concerns about playing Fultz despite the shoulder problem and doesn't envisage that he'll develop bad shooting habits because of it.

“No, I don’t. I’m advised mostly by the medical people," Brown said. That’s what I get worried about the most, and nobody has any fears.”

Worry

The concern for Philadelphia should be on the physical and mental strain this could have on Fultz throughout the campaign. 

His confidence looks shot at the moment and he will be no use to Philly on the floor if he's unable to contribute. 

As a team with ambitions to make playoffs, he will be an important factor in helping them achieve that and they should correct his flaws and health issues sooner rather than later.

According to Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice, that's exactly what the Sixers have decided to do today as Fultz has reportedly been ruled out of the next three games with shoulder soreness.

The talented ball-handler hasn't become a bad player overnight and deserves to be properly judged when he's fully healthy.

Brown has already advised him that he won't be defined by his shooting struggles or what he does in his rookie year.

“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.”

At the moment he's getting a rough ride but the 76ers will hope that he'll overcome his injury and shooting woes and prove that they were right to select him at number one. At the moment it's still up for debate. 

Topics:
Eastern Conference
NBA
Atlantic Division
Joel Embiid
Philadelphia 76ers
Allen Iverson

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