NBA Injuries

The Markelle Fultz Injury all too familiar for Sixers

© Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers fans maintained realistic hopes for #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz. No one in Philadpehia expected Fultz to lead the team, but everyone was relieved to finally watch a lottery pick play out an uninterrupted rookie season. However, rookies do not stay healthy in Philadelphia. Just ask Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. On Wednesday, October 25th, Fultz’s shoulder injury was labeled as a three game absence but extended two games later as an indefinite leave. Fultz will sit out for three weeks, and await reevaluation. Such is life, for a 76ers rookie.

The good news is that Fultz did not suffer from any structural damage. Rather, the University of Washington product is dealing with “soreness and scapular muscle imbalance”. While Jerryd Bayless started the season in place of Fultz alongside Ben Simmons, who will likely not be replaced as a starter at any point this year. Fultz’s injury, along with fellow guard J.J. Reddick’s lower back tightness which has intermidetly sidelined him, will surely result in a bigger role for Bayless. The NBA journeyman has posted 11.6 points a game in 2017 while averaging 31.4 minutes on the floor each night. The Sixers will also rely on T.J. McConell during Fultz’s hiatus, who has played 21 minutes a game this year, averaging 6.4 points and 4.7 assists.

Fultz’s shoulder will impede his progress, which was rather stagnant before the injury. Through his first four games, Fultz only averaged 19 minutes of playing time and 6 points, 2.3 rebounds per contest. As the #1 overall pick, Fultz has not lived up to the expectations of many, and has been out dueled by fellow rookies Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum among others. The shoulder soreness has been pinpointed as a possible explanation for Fultz’s new free throw shot, which is highly unconventional and extremely unproductive. Fultz’s recovery may help stabilize his free throw shooting. Even when he returns, Fultz will remain a stretch in deep fantasy leagues.

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