It appears that Markelle Fultz can contribute in a game. At least, that’s the impression 76ers coach Brett Brown gave Wednesday after practice at the team’s facility.
“You can see why he was the first player chosen” in the NBA draft, Brown said, “the stuff he does with the ball, his ability to get into the lane and find people. The hesitancy at times we see with his shot is true. It’s real.
“He can still impact an NBA game without having to shoot.”
Despite that, Fultz will miss his 37th consecutive game Thursday night when the Sixers face the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Brown has been adamant that Fultz won’t see the floor until his shot passes the eye test. He wants him to be a complete player.
The coach acknowledged that Fultz’s foul shooting is back to normal. It appeared to be during post-practice drills that were open to the media. He effortlessly sank a pair of foul shots on a far court. The Sixers had announced Dec. 9 that the 19-year-old was no longer experiencing soreness in his right shoulder and said the muscular imbalance in the shoulder had been resolved.
Wednesday marked the fifth practice in which Fultz participated in five-on-five scrimmages, according to Brown. However, his long-range shooting and awkward-looking form on those shots are still not to the coach’s liking.
The release point of Fultz’s shot was above his head at the University of Washington and during the Utah Jazz Summer League in July. Now, it appears he’s pushing the ball more from in front of his body.
For now, Fultz has been an impressive backup point guard leading the White team — the Sixers’ second unit — at practice. Brown has been coaching Fultz the same way he’s been coaching Ben Simmons. Fultz is leading the charge while the Sixers run plays. “And he looks good,” Brown said. “He looks good.”
On Wednesday, Brown put him at the foul line six times. Fultz’s team would keep the ball if he made the foul shot. It would relinquish the ball if he missed. He went 5 for 6 and “looked good doing it,” said Brown.
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) January 17, 2018
That’s one of the pressure situations the Sixers are trying to create for him at practice. However, Brown said losing JJ Redick to a left knee injury won’t expedite Fultz’s return.
Redick has a partial width fracture in the fibular head of his left leg, which is the bone that originates on the lower outside of the knee. The shooting guard also has swelling on the bone, the Sixers said. Jerryd Bayless will start in his place against the Celtics (34-11). Brown said that reserve Justin Anderson and possibly two-way player James Young could see action at shooting guard.
Reserve post player Richaun Holmes and reserve swingman Furkan Korkmaz also will be sidelined against Boston. This will mark the second straight game that Holmes missed with gastroenteritis. Korkmaz will miss his 13th straight game with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot.