LONDON – For 10 weeks, Markelle Fultz was basically the forgotten 76er. It was a period when he was commuting to the University of Kentucky for observation. The rare times Fultz was in a competitive setting with teammates came when he sat on the bench in street clothes cheering them on during games.
But now the biggest question facing the Sixers is when will the first overall pick in last year’s NBA draft return to game action?
Fultz will miss his 35th consecutive game when the Sixers (19-19) play the Boston Celtics on Thursday afternoon at The 02 Arena here. The team said it’s unclear when Fultz will return. While he’s eager to play, the combo guard is elated to at least have joined his teammates in five-on-five scrimmages the last four days.
However, he has yet to be cleared for full practices while rehabilitating from left shoulder soreness and muscle imbalance and working on his shot.
“Every day, I come in and try to give it my all,” Fultz said Wednesday during his first media availability with beat writers since being sidelined Oct. 24. “It’s good to be out there and have the chemistry with my teammates, again. Just be able to interact with them. Be a competitor again, which I am.”
For the 19-year-old, the best part of the scrimmages is being able to compete. His goal is to push his teammates every day.
“I feel like I can push each and every one of these guys to their highest potential,” he said. “So I just want to go out there and make them better.”
That’s something Fultz tried to do even when he wasn’t practicing.
The former Washington standout said he would act like a coach during games. Fultz spoke up whenever teammates weren’t giving their all or when he observed something. But now, he’s doing it again as their teammate in practice.
Fultz spent time away from the team rehabilitating and getting checked out by surgeon Ben Kibler of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky in Lexington. He wasn’t cleared to resume team activities until Dec. 9, when the team announced in a statement that the shoulder soreness and muscle imbalance were gone.
Fultz has played in only four games, averaging 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists.