The 76ers feel good about Markelle Fultz’s progress from his shoulder injury. Fixing a sagging jump shot appears to be a much bigger obstacle.
Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft from the University of Washington, has appeared in just four games, the most recent on Oct. 23. Since then, he has been rehabilitating from left shoulder soreness and muscle imbalance and working on his shot.
The shot appears to be the much worse situation.
Fultz recently joined the team in five-on-five scrimmages during practice. The media have not seen these encounters, but, on Sunday after practice, Fultz was seen on a side court, competing against teammate Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, with Brown coaching both players.
There is no timetable for Fultz’s return.
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) January 14, 2018
When asked whether Fultz must be 100 percent physically to return to the court, Brown gave a telling response.
“What he needs … to be, is able to shoot a basketball,” Brown said. “I don’t know what percent we will apply to that comment.”
Brown said he has been pleased with Fultz’s progress at the foul line, but the rest of his outside shooting apparently is a major work in progress.
“He needs to feel like he can go shoot a basketball, and I think to just render it that the foul shot is pretty good, and it is, and only go that far without talking about some of the other pieces,” Brown said. “It’s not what we are looking at, and I know he isn’t looking at that.”
Fultz, who spoke briefly with reporters last week when the Sixers lost a 114-103 decision on Thursday to the Boston Celtics in London, has generally not been made available to the media, and likely won’t be until he is able to return to game action.
Brown doesn’t think that Fultz is 100 percent physically, but it’s the apparent lack of confidence in his shot that appears to be keeping him off the court.
“It is my understanding there is still some discomfort from time to time, but that is part of recognizing there is still some sort of erratic shooting, and it is not where it used to be yet,” Brown said. “And I hope everybody writes that — yet.”
Fultz, 19, shot 41.3 percent from three-point range in his only season at Washington, where he averaged 23.2 points.
In the four games with the Sixers, he shot 9-for-27 (33.3 percent) from the field, 6-of-12 from the foul line, and hasn’t attempted a three-point shot.
Brown said that at this point, there is no set distance Fultz must show he can shoot from to return.
“You can tell there is work to be done and I think it will be as much of an eye test and gut feel as it is a distance,” Brown said.
The Sixers (19-20) will host the Toronto Raptors (29-12) in Monday’s 1 p.m. Martin Luther King Day matinee at the Wells Fargo Center. Toronto is coming off Saturday’s 127-125 home loss to the Golden State Warriors, as DeMar DeRozan scored 42 points. … A three-time all-star guard, DeRozan is averaging 25.4 points per game…The Raptors are 1-2 since Cardinal Dougherty and Villanova product Kyle Lowry went down with a bruised tailbone. He is listed as day to day. … The Sixers are 0-3 against Toronto and 0-8 against the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference — Boston, the Raptors and Cleveland.